Q: Who said the following: "If I went West, I think I would go to Kansas -- to Leavenworth or Atchison. Both of them are, and will continue to be, fine growing places.”
A: Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, only visited the Kansas Territory once and it was nearly a year before he was elected to the highest office in the land. Lincoln made his trip here in the fall of 1859. According to the Kansas Historical Society, Lincoln's famous senatorial debates with Stephen A. Douglas the year before he came to Kansas had gained him a national reputation and a modest following. But most Kansas Republicans favored his better-known Republican rival, William H. Seward. Thus, Lincoln’s trip to Kansas Territory received only slight press coverage and was relatively brief. His anti-slavery message, nevertheless, was one of significance for the territory and nation at a pivotal moment in our country’s history.
Abraham Lincoln crossed the Missouri River at St. Joseph by ferry and arrived in Elwood on November 30. Over the next few days, he visited the small towns of Troy, Doniphan, Atchison and Leavenworth. It was a short visit, and one that Lincoln would not have the opportunity to repeat. But his message impressed a good many Kansans, and Kansas made an impression on him.
A few months later, when asked if he would advise someone to “go west,” Lincoln replied: “If I went West, I think I would go to Kansas -- to Leavenworth or Atchison. Both of them are, and will continue to be, fine growing places.”
History remembers Lincoln as the “Great Emancipator” and one of America’s great presidents.