A twelve day inaugural journey by President-elect Abraham Lincoln in 1861 took him through Western New York (WNY) for a two night visit. The crowds along the way were large, excited and, at times, seemingly out of control.Arrival at Buffalo's Exchange Street Station produced near hysteria as thousands attempted to get a better view of Lincoln. The depot crowd, 10,000 strong and intent on witnessing history,overwhelmed the small security force protecting the President. Despite the aggressive and boisterous atmosphere, Lincoln eventually made his way out of the building - a bit roughed up but unscathed and unharmed.
During his stay in the region, Lincoln met with a former President, several political leaders and a German immigrant group. However, his story in WNY also included connections with several individuals. He met the lady who gave up her room at the hotel for him; a little girl who gave him flowers, and in quite possibly the most famous Lincoln story of all, anotherlittle girl who wrote him a letter suggesting he grow a beard. There was even a rare photograph taken of him on the rear platform of the train, which has yet to make its way into the public eye.
With a nearly out-of-control yet enthusiastic public, a pickpocket's heaven, and even the occasional snowball, the Lincoln visit to Buffalo was for many years afterwards a memorable moment in local history.The Best of the Bargain will take you back to a long neglected story of Western New York.