Many Americans (at least those who remember their history classes) know that Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky, raised in Indiana and started his law and political career in Illinois. And frequent travelers know that many historical sites and museums can be found in those states telling the 16th presidents story.
But one of the most significant Lincoln museums is in Tennessee, not far from Cumberland Gap and the point where Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky meet.
The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, on the verdant campus of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, features a large collection of Lincoln memorabilia and lore from Honest Abes lifetime and well beyond.
The liberal-arts college was chartered in 1897 in a mountainous part of eastern Tennessee that had largely remained loyal to the Union during the Civil War. The college was established primarily through the efforts of retired Union Army Gen. Oliver O. Howard.
As head of the post-war Freedmens Bureau, Howard also had helped establish a college in 1867 in Washington, D.C., to educate black students. That college, Howard University, was named after the general, who also served as its president for a time.
When Lincoln Memorial University was established, it immediately began receiving donations of Lincoln memorabilia. The college opened a museum room in 1929.
Since that time, the collection has grown to encompass thousands of Lincoln items, including interesting personal pieces, such as the cane the president was carrying in Fords Theatre the night he was assassinated.
The current library and museum building was completed in 1977 with funds that included $500,000 from fried-chicken entrepreneur Colonel Harland Sanders, then a university trustee.
Visitors today will see permanent exhibits on aspects of Lincolns life and death as well as many pieces of art depicting Lincoln, including several modern interpretations of his famously tall, thin frame and craggy face.
The library and museum combo is also an important center for Lincoln research, containing more than 30,000 books about Lincoln, the Civil War and related topics.
The museum also hosts temporary exhibits focusing on aspects of Lincolns life. An exhibit that runs through June 1 examines some of the most controversial wartime policies of his administration, including the suspension of habeas corpus, attempts at press censorship and institution of a military draft.
For more information about the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, call 423-869-6235 or visit lmunet.edu/museum.
-- Steve Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SteveStephens.