Abraham Lincoln's Wedge

Lincoln used this iron wedge to split wood while living in New Salem, Illinois in the early 1830s.
In 1885 workers found this wedge during renovations to a house that once belonged to Mentor Graham in New Salem, Illinois. Graham was a friend of Abraham Lincoln’s, and Lincoln gave him the wedge as a token of friendship when he left New Salem to begin his career as a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois.
The initials “A L” appear on one side of the wedge. John Spears, a neighbor, recalled the day Lincoln went to a blacksmith and asked to have his initials cut into the wedge. The blacksmith hesitated, claiming he was “no scholar.” Lincoln borrowed the tools and marked the wedge himself.
Gift of Henry W. Allen, 1920
Currently not on view
Object Name
Lincoln, Abraham
Physical Description
iron (overall material)
overall: 1 1/2 in x 8 3/4 in x 2 in; 3.81 cm x 22.225 cm x 5.08 cm
associated place
United States: Illinois
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Government, Politics, and Reform
Selections from the Abraham Lincoln Collection
See more items in
Political History: Political History, General History Collection
Selections from the Abraham Lincoln Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Henry W. Allen
Related Publication
Rubenstein, Harry R.. Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life
Additional Media

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