Lincoln's Springfield

Lincoln's Springfield (HMWQX)

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

N 39° 48.03', W 89° 38.887'

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Twenty-eight-year-old Abraham Lincoln settled here in 1837. He was unmarried, unlearned, unrefined, with "no wealthy or popular relations to recommend me." On the day before his fifty-second birthday, Lincoln left here a profoundly changed man; a husband and father, financially secure, his intellectual and moral abilities having grown to match his towering physical stature; his deeply held political convictions tempered by empathy and keen insight into the human condition.

On this public square and in surrounding buildings, Lincoln and his family and friends purchased goods, attended parties, enjoyed picnics and parades, watched theatricals, and listened to concerts and lectures. In law offices and courtrooms overlooking this square he honed his skills of persuasion. In storefront discussions and street corner gatherings he perfected the art of politics. Then, as his understanding matured and his convictions deepened, he took his place among the leaders of his time, addressing the people of the nation in powerful and eloquent words that echoed beyond this small prairie capital.

Springfield was the center of Lincoln's world for a quarter century. When he arrived here Springfield was, like himself, shaking off its rough, frontier beginnings. The legislature had recently named it the state capital—-but there was no statehouse. Less than two thousand people lived here. In summer the unpaved streets were dusty and in winter they were hopelessly muddy. Cows, chickens and pigs wandered freely about, frogs croaked in undrained swamps. To the unsophisticated Lincoln, however, Springfield had more grandeur than the backwoods settlements from whence he came.

As Lincoln grew in economic status and social position, so too did his city. When Lincoln left in February 1861 to assume the presidency, Springfield had almost 10,000 inhabitants and boasted of many impressive buildings and social institutions. Neither Lincoln nor his city was "frontier" anymore.

Center Photos
Left: Lincoln's first known photograph, cir. 1846, at about age 37—-"no wealthy or popular relations to recommend me."
Right: Lincoln's last Springfield photograph, taken February 9, 1861, as President-elect, three days shy of his 62nd birthday—-a man shaped by lessons in practical democracy and human nature learned "in this place" and among "these people."
Far right: Washington Street as Lincoln knew it, looking west to the railroad crossing at Third Street.

Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, September 26th, 2014 at 6:44am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 273286 N 4408970
Decimal Degrees39.80050000, -89.64811667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 48.03', W 89° 38.887'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 48' 1.80" N, 89° 38' 53.22" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 2-98 E Adams St, Springfield IL 62701, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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