The Lincoln Boys in 1854

The Lincoln Boys in 1854 (HMWR1)

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

N 39° 48.037', W 89° 38.885'

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The Springfield "urban" environment that shaped the childhood of the Lincoln boys was a far cry from the "backwoods wilderness" their father knew as a child. "Pay schools" and academies, railroad trains and fancy carriages, circuses and Sunday schools, hardware stores and drug store candies—-this was indeed a different world from the rough frontier of previous generations.

Though more urbane, Springfield was not necessarily a safer environment for children. "Our city is in an extremely filthy condition," complained a resident. "Backyards, necessaries, ponds with putrid waters, can be seen all about." In 1850 (the year Lincoln's four-year-old son Eddie died), one-half of all Springfield deaths were children under five.

Citizens also believed that Springfield had a serious "boy problem." An 8 p.m. curfew prohibited boys from raiding orchards, exploding firecrackers, beating each other, "making a noise or creating any disturbance," or otherwise engaging in "malicious mischief."

Above: This Christmas advertisement from an 1854 Springfield newspaper gave children a powerful incentive to be "good Boys and Girls."
Below: these are the earliest known photos of the Lincoln boys—-Tad, about age 2; Willie about age 5; Robert, age 15.

The Lincoln boys in 1854. One-year old Tad was too young to attend activities. Four-year-old Willie—- considered the bright and gentle mannered—-shared his father's tastes and talents. Eddie had died four years earlier, leaving a seven-year gap between 11-year-old Robert and Willie. This contributed to the distance that seemed to separate Robert from the rest of the family. He resented his parents' indulgence of his younger brothers. As the oldest, he paid an emotional price for Lincoln's frequent absences from home. More than the others, he absorbed the aristocratic attitudes of his mother's family, and may have felt that his father was "inferior."

HM NumberHMWR1
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 at 12:42am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 273289 N 4408982
Decimal Degrees39.80061667, -89.64808333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 48.037', W 89° 38.885'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 48' 2.22" N, 89° 38' 53.10" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1-99 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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