home to the Speed family of Louisville, Farmington was once a
thriving hemp plantation of 550 acres.
The Federal-style house was built in 1815-16 using a labor force
consisting largely of skilled enslaved African-Americans. As many as sixty-four slaves were once owned
by John Speed.
during an 1841 visit to Farmington
that Abraham Lincoln witnessed firsthand slavery on a plantation. Visiting his friend Joshua Speed, Lincoln stayed at Farmington
for three weeks. Upon leaving Kentucky, Lincoln
witnessed a sight he would remember for years to come. After boarding a steamboat at the Louisville waterfront, Lincoln saw slaves chained together where
they were being sold down South. In a
letter to Joshua’s half sister Mary, Lincoln
described the sight: “They were chained six and six together. A small iron clevis was around the left wrist
of each . . . So that the Negroes were strung together precisely like so many
fish on a trot-line.” This image stayed
and he again wrote of the incident in 1855.
In a letter to Joshua Speed, Lincoln
wrote that the scene had continued to torment him.
Lincoln remained close to the Speed
family, with Joshua being described as his “most intimate friend.” Although the two men held differing opinions
on the issue of slavery, they remained friends throughout the Civil War. Lincoln also
became acquainted with Joshua’s older brother, James Speed, during his 1841
trip to Farmington. Lincoln
appointed him attorney general in 1864.
Rutherford's view of Farmington
from the Anthony Philip Heinrich Scrapbook, 1820
of the Library of Congress, Music Division