Leaping Lincoln

Leaping Lincoln (HM12OK)

Location: Springfield, IL 62701 Washington County
Country: United States of America

N 39° 47.96', W 89° 38.953'

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In November 1840 legislators convened in the cramped quarters of the Methodist Church while workers were completing the statehouse a block away. "The House of Representatives was crammed in a room barely large enough for the members to turn round in, having no tables to write upon, or space to move from one part of the house to another," newspapers reported. These conditions added to the confusion Lincoln encountered as leader of the minority Whig party. On December 5, when the Democratic majority was about to pass a measure that threatened the State Bank, Whigs conspired to prevent a legal voting quorum by staying away. Only Lincoln and a few lieutenants remained to observe. Suddenly it became evident that Democrats had rounded up enough members to form a quorum. "Mr. Lincoln came under great excitement," Democrats mocked. Blocked from the door, he "unceremoniously raised the window and jumped out." The Democratic measure passed anyway. An embarrassed Lincoln ever after resented references to what he called that "jumping scape."

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Fellow Whig legislators Joseph Gillespie(left) and Asahel Gridley (right) joined Lincoln in leaping from the Methodist Church window in an ill-fated attempt to stop a legislative vote. "We have not learned whether there flying members got hurt," wrote bemused Democrats; Lincoln, they assumed had not "as it was noticed that his legs reached nearly from the window to the ground!" Democratic editors suggested that workers add a third story to the new statehouse "so as to prevent members from jumping out of the windows!....Mr. Lincoln will in (the)future have to climb down the spout!"

No pictures exist of the wood frame Methodist Church that stood on this corner from 1831 to 1854. A visitor described it as "a modest-looking meetinghouse which speaks more for the simple piety of the inhabitants, than the ostentatious taste of the citizens." The state legislature, circuit court, and private schools also used the building. But the old church eventually proved too small. In 1854 members dedicated a new brick building with seating capacity for 500. The graceful $700 spire blew down, however, during a violent storm - "a rebuke from the Lord for the extravagance and pride of the Methodists of Springfield in these latter days," declared the Rev. Peter Cartwright (hence, the "spireless" picture).

HM NumberHM12OK
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 26th, 2014 at 5:20pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 273188 N 4408843
Decimal Degrees39.79933333, -89.64921667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 47.96', W 89° 38.953'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 47' 57.60" N, 89° 38' 57.18" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 500 E Monroe St, Springfield IL 62701, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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