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The story of eradicating slavery all began with “…a slave girl named Nance” Legins-Costley (1813-1892 ) of Illinois, the first enslaved person freed by President Lincoln. Lincoln also freed three of Nance’s first of eight children with the same verdict. Lincoln’s immortality can be summed up in seven words: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist.” This phrase is quoted in the 13th Amendment and was used three times in Lincoln’s historic first slavery trial in Illinois’ Supreme Court trial of Bailey v Cromwell (1841). Lincoln officially used the same phrase three more times. Once, in 1848, when the bill for DC emancipation that never got a vote. Again, on Juneteenth, 1862, to prohibit slavery in all remaining territories of the US. And lastly in 1865, during the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Notably, Nance’s first-born son, William Henry Costley, fought in the Civil War and witnessed the original Juneteenth in Texas.

Learn more about how Lincoln's legacy started with a woman named Nance, as author Carl Adams uncovers “The Story of Nance and the Legacy of Lincoln’s Presidency.” Come join us on Thursday, March 14 at 6:00 p.m. ET!

Starting February 1st, we are partnering with Diageo North America, who will bring new and innovative cocktails to life during our mixology sessions.

History Happy Hour is a biweekly virtual program hosted by the White House Historical Association. Join us as experts weigh in on a variety of historical topics, share their insights, answer audience questions, and enjoy presidential-inspired libations.

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