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Lincoln and Speed

Lincoln and Speed

Lincoln and Speed

In 1837, Abraham Lincoln (aged 28) met Joshua Fry Speed (aged 23) when Lincoln moved to Springfield Illinois to set himself up as a lawyer. Lincoln tried to buy a bed from Speed’s store on credit, but Speed offered to share his room and bed instead. Previously Speed had heard the young Lincoln speak on the stump when Lincoln was running for election to the Illinois legislature, but the two men had exchanged only bits of conversation. The two ended up having a lifelong friendship, and upon the death of Lincoln, Speed and other members of his family put up funding to create a Lincoln Memorial. The bizarre nature of this relationship is not that the two shared a bed, but that it is an example of a now extinct version of “Romantic Friendship” – a term that described an intimate, but non-sexual relationship between two people. Romantic Friendships were very common until the mid to late 19th century when homosexuality was beginning to be defined. Other famous examples of Romantic Friendship are William Shakespeare and his “Fair lord”, and Emily Dickinson and Sue Gilbert.