The “Railsplitter’s” Mallet Surfaces Ahead of His 207th Birthday

Officials at the Indiana State Museum have announced an exciting new item: Abraham Lincoln’s mallet. Inscribed with “A.L. 1829,” the Museum believes Lincoln used this mallet to help his father build furniture. Most know that Lincoln’s nickname was “The Railsplitter” during his 1860 presidential campaign for his self-made, frontier upbringing that led to the painting below:


“The Railsplitter” – 1860 painting – Chicago History Museum, ICHi-52428. The Whitehouse can be seen in the background.

Emphasizing Lincoln’s frontier origins helped provide credence to his presidential candidacy, as one of Lincoln’s antislavery arguments drew on the notion of the superiority of free labor vs. slave labor. Lincoln first used this argument against Stephen Douglas during the 1858 Illinois Senate Campaign.  Officials believe the furniture mallet, insured for $250,000, was adapted from a splitting maul (pictured above) that may have broken while Lincoln split rails for fencing. The mallet (see video below) will go on display this Friday, February 12: Lincoln’s 207th birthday.


Callahan, Rick. “Indiana State Museum Unveils Mallet Tied to Abraham Lincoln.” ABC News, February 9, 2016. Accessed February 10, 2016.

Foner, Eric. The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery. New York: W. W. Norton, 2010.Higgins, Will. “Breaking news about Abraham Lincoln.” Indianapolis Star, February 20, 2016. Accessed February 10, 2016.

Higgins, Will. “Breaking news about Abraham Lincoln.” Indianapolis Star, February 10, 2016. Accessed February 10, 2016.

Mahoney, Olivia. “Abraham Lincoln as ‘The Railsplitter.'” Chicago History Museum Blog, November 18, 2009. Accessed February 10, 2016.



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s