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Book suggests Lincoln was born in N.C. - and out of wedlock

By Associated Press
Published December 6, 2003

HICKORY, N.C. - Investigating a topic that has been taboo for years, two North Carolina researchers say President Abraham Lincoln may have been the illegitimate son of a North Carolinian named Abraham Enloe.

In their book The Tarheel Lincoln, Catawba Valley Community College history professor Richard Eller and retired schoolteacher Jerry Goodnight research decades-old claims that the 16th president was born in Rutherford County, near the town of Bostic, about 60 miles west of Charlotte.

Traditional claims that Lincoln was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Ky., are based on a statement written by Lincoln a few months before he was nominated to be president.

Eller and Enloe base their argument in favor of Lincoln's North Carolina origins on a physical resemblance between Lincoln and Enloe, which the authors noted by comparing photographs of the tall, lanky men.

Their book, published by Hickory-based Tarheel Press, covers sources cited in Lincoln biographies written in 1899 and 1940. And it includes interviews with Enloe descendants and others who have carried with them an oral tradition of Lincoln's birth.

Gary Talley, chief of operations at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace, a National Park Service historic site near Hodgenville, Ky., is skeptical.

"We have Lincoln's own words that say he was born (in Kentucky)," Talley said. "How much more definitive does it get than that?"

Eller and Goodnight say Lincoln, his family and supporters altered the story of Lincoln's life to support his political career.

"Being illegitimate in the 1800s was not seen very well," Goodnight said. "It was certainly the kind of thing that could not be tolerated if it was someone running for president."


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