Murder & Memory


Broad axe.  [early 19th century].  Iron and wood.

This broad axe, according to an affidavit that accompanied it in 1922, was sold by Abraham Lincoln to a cattle driver in Illinois for “one dollar and four bits.”  A few years later, the cattle driver saw the man who sold him the axe “electioneering for office, later same man ran for the Presidency, and won, being Abraham Lincoln.”  The affidavit was signed by the wife of the cattle driver’s grandson on 19 June 1922.  During Lincoln’s 1860 campaign for the presidency the axe became a symbol of his frontier upbringing.  Lincoln became known as the “Rail Splitter” as a tribute to his prowess with an axe as a young man.

Lincoln Collection    The William Whiting Nolen Collection of Lincolniana.