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President Abraham Lincoln isn’t the only Kentucky native to grace the big screen in the movie bearing his name.
Hardin County native George Helm Yeaman is featured in the movie as one of the Congressmen on whom the future of the 13th Amendment rests.
The movie centers on the last few months of Lincoln’s life. During that time, he worked to convince congressmen and make deals with them to ensure passage of the constitutional amendment that would outlaw slavery.
Lincoln and others thought it was important to get the amendment ratified before the end of the war to reduce the difficulty that would arise getting votes from southern representatives.
Hardin County Clerk Kenny Tabb recognized Yeaman’s name when he was presented in the movie as an important potential vote to end slavery.
“As soon as he came on the screen, I looked over at my wife and said, ‘He’s from Hardin County.’”
Tabb said local historian Mary Jo Jones told him and others before she died in 2010 that the Hardin County History Museum should have something in it to recognize Yeaman.
Tabb went home after the movie to look up information about the historical figure and he found an article Jones had written about him.
“He was a very important man and had a very outstanding career,” he said.
Yeaman was born in 1829 to Stephen Minor Yeaman and Lucretia Helm Yeaman, the sister of Gov. John Helm, according to the article.
George Helm Yeaman began a law practice in Elizabethtown until he and his brother left for Owensboro.
Yeaman was elected Judge of Daviess County at age 25 and then represented the county in the state legislature for two years.
The Union sympathizer thought slavery was wrong but that sudden and forced abolition would destroy the economies of Kentucky and all other southern states.
He raised a regiment of soldiers for the Union Army and was soon elected to the House of Representatives.
Yeaman was there serving out the rest of his term of a little more than two years and had not won reelection when Lincoln was dealing to get votes for the amendment.
The movie doesn’t mention what the congressman might have gotten for his vote, but many of Lincoln’s supporters ended up with federal positions. Yeaman was awarded the position of Minister to Denmark from President Andrew Johnson after Lincoln’s death.
Tabb said he felt good to see the Hardin County native portrayed on the big screen, and he’s glad that Jones told him about Yeaman’s history.
Now, it’s his turn to pass on the story and tell people he knows about the local significance of the movie.
The appearance could mean recognition of Yeaman in the history museum, Tabb said.
“I think we’ll probably have to come up with something now,” he said. “His name is out there now.”
Amber Coultercan be reached at (270) 505-1746 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Stories From the Heartland appears Mondays in The News-Enterprise.