Image of Speed, Joshua F.

Speed, Joshua F.

b. November 14, 1814, near Louisville, Kentucky; d. May 29, 1882, in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1835, Speed moved to Springfield, Illinois, where he started a mercantile business. He later became the intimate friend and associate of Abraham Lincoln. In 1836, Lincoln lived in the room over Speed’s store, after Lincoln had moved to Springfield from New Salem, Illinois. Speed returned to Kentucky in 1842. In 1848, he was elected to the Kentucky legislature. In 1851, he moved to Louisville, Kentucky and acquired a large fortune in the real estate business. With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Speed heartily embraced the cause of the Union. During the war, Lincoln (whom Speed frequently visited in Washington, DC), entrusted him with many delicate and important duties in the interest of the government. Speed’s and Lincoln’s friendship lasted until Lincoln’s death in 1865.
Robert L. Kincaid, Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln’s Most Intimate Friend (Harrogate, TN: Department of Lincolniana, Lincoln Memorial University, 1943), 10; Susan Krause, "Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed, Attorney and Client,” Illinois Historical Journal 89 (Spring 1996):35-50; Sangamon County, Illinois, Sixth Census of the United States, 1840; Paul Selby, Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Sangamon County, Vol. II (Chicago: Munsell Publishing Company, 1912), 495. Illustration courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL.