The President Abraham Lincoln’s ever best bond – Joshua Fry Speed

Joshua Fry Speed –  Everlasting friend of the 16th US President Abraham Lincoln, Joshua Speed was born in Louisville, Kentucky on 14th November 1814, he was an American Politician and close friend of Abraham Lincoln from his days in Springfield, Illinois where Joshua was a partner in General store, later Speed was a Farmer and a Real Estate Investor in Kentucky and also served one term in the Kentucky House of Representation in 1848, he died on 29th May 1882 in Louisville, Kentucky. Joshua Speed was known for Abraham Lincoln’s best friend and close confidant.

Meeting of his best friend – How the friendship started between Abraham Lincoln and Joshua

Joshua Speed had heard the young Abraham Lincoln’s speech on the stump when Lincoln was running for election to the Illinois Legislature. On April 15, 1837, Abraham Lincoln arrived at Springfield, the new state capital, in order to seek his fortune as a young lawyer whereupon Lincoln met Joshua Speed. Abraham Lincoln sublet Joshua Speed’s apartment above Speed’s store becoming his roommate, sharing the bed with him for 4 years and becoming his lifelong best friend. 

Joshua Speed’s Plan to returning back to Farming Land near Louisville, Kentucky

On March 30, 1840, Joshua Speed after his father death planned to sell his store and return to his Parents large plantation house, Farmington near Louisville, Kentucky, Abraham Lincoln thought notoriously awkward and shy around women was at the time engaged to Mary Todd, a vivacious society, young women, also from Kentucky. As the dates approached for both Speed’s departure and Abraham Lincoln’s marriage, Lincoln broke the engagement on the planned day of the wedding (Jan 1, 1841), as planned Speed departed and Lincoln went into depression.

Meeting between Abraham Lincoln and the Attorney James Speed (older brother of Speed)

7 months later in July 1841, Abraham  Lincoln, still depressed, decided to visit Speeed in Kentucky, He welcomed  Lincoln to his Paternal house where the latter spent a month rejuvenating his health and mind. During his stay in Farmington, Abraham Lincoln rode into Louisville almost daily to discuss legal matters of the day with attorney James Speed, Joshua’s older brother James speed lent Abraham Lincoln books from his  Law Library.

Joshua Speed and Abraham Lincoln disagreed over slavery, especially Speed’s argument northerners should not care. In 1855, Lincoln wrote to Speed

“You know I dislike Slavery, and you fully admit the abstract wrong of it, I also acknowledge your rights and my obligations under the constitution in regard to  I confess, I hate to see the poor creatures hunted down and caught and carried back to their stripes and unrewarded toils, but I bite my lips and keep quiet. In 1841 you and I had together a tedious low-water trip, on a steamboat from Louisville to St.Lour’s, you may remember as I will do, that from Louisville to the mouth of Ohio, there were on board, ten or a dozen slaves, shackled together with irons, that sight was a continued torment to me and I see something like it, everytime I touch Ohio or any other slave border, It is hardly fair for you to assume that I have no interest in a thing which has and continually exercises, the power of making me miserable, you ought rather appreciate how much the great body of the Northern people do crucify their feelings.

Abraham Lincoln’s offer ( a Government appointment) refused by Joshua Speed

Abraham Lincoln, during his Presidential administration (March 4, 1861 to 

April 15, 1865) several times offered Speed a government appointment. Joshua refused each time, choosing to help in other ways. He disagreed with Abraham Lincoln on the slavery question but remained loyal and coordinated all Union Activities in Kentucky during the American Civil War. His brother James Speed, however, served as Abraham Lincoln’s United States Attorney General beginning in November 1864. In explaining the nomination to Congress, Lincoln acknowledged that he did not know James as well as he knew Joshua.

Lasting Friendship – How the bond formed

Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed met in Springfield, Illinois in 1837, when Joshua offered an impoverished young Lincoln a place to stay, a generous act that laid the foundation for a lifelong friendship.

Correspondence between Abraham lincoln and joshua Speed

Distance and marriage obviously affected the friendship between Speed and Lincoln, three years later Abraham Lincoln wrote a letter to Speed concerning the legal work he was doing. ‘You no doubt, assign the suspension of our correspondence to the true philosophical cause, though it must be confessed, by both of us, that this is rather a cold reason for allowing a friendship such as ours to die by degrees. I propose now that on the receipt of this, you shall be considered in my debt, and under obligation to pay soon and that neither shall remain long in arrears hereafter- Are you agreed/.

Abraham lincoln confided things to Speed that he could not tell anyone else – particularly not his

Illinois friends and allies. “Being elected to Congress, though I am grateful to our friends for having done it, has not pleased me as much as I expected “Mr. Lincoln wrote Speed in October 1846.

The friendship never died though it sent somewhat into hibernation during the 1850s. The civil war revived it. “I desire to trend you my sincere congratulations upon your elevation to the highest position in the world – by the suffrage of a free people – As a friend, i rejoice at your success – as a political opponent, I am not disappointed – the result is what I expected wrote Speed to President Abraham Lincoln shortly after the 1860 election, “The eyes of the whole nation will be upon you while unfortunately, the ears of one half will be closed to anything you may say – How to deal with combustible material lying around you without setting fire to the edifice of which we are all so proud and of which you will be the chief custodian in a difficult task. Joshua Speed went on to offer to share his views and opinions of the impending conflict in person if “agreeable to you” and deny that he had any desire for a patronage position.

White House Visit – by Joshua Speed

On one of Joshua’s visits to the “White House” in late 1862, President Abraham Lincoln discussed emancipation with him. Although Joshua opposed Emancipation, President Lincoln “Seemed to treat it as certain, that I would recognize the wisdom of the act where I should see the harvest of the good we would glean from it, after recalling his suicidal state in 1841, Abraham Lincoln said to me, that he had done nothing to make any human being remember that he had lived and to connect his name with the events transpiring in his day and generation and to express himself upon them as to link his name with something that would rebound to the interest of his fellowmen was what he desired to live for”.

Joshua’s meeting with Abraham Lincoln two months before the President’s Assassination

In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln appointed brother James Speed as his Attorney general to succeed Edward Bates, who like Speed was from a border state. Abraham Lincoln held hostage his signature on the confirmation of Supreme Court Chief justice until recalcitrant Senators confirmed Speed.

Joshua Speed himself visited the “White House” less than 2 months before President Abraham Lincoln. Joshua Speed remained an unabashed admirer of Abraham lincoln over decades after his death, he wrote that “Mr.Lincoln never lost the nobility of his nature, nor the kindness of his heart, by being removed to a higher sphere of action, on the contrary, both were increased. The enlarged sphere of his action developed the natural promptings of his heart. Speed maintained “Now for me to have lived to see such a man rise from point to point and from place to place, filling all the places to which he was called, with honor and distinction, until he reached the Presidency.

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