Surveyor Presidents

Surveyor Presidents (HMWVA)

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

N 39° 48.11', W 89° 38.902'

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Many people look at Mount Rushmore, carved in the Black Hills of South Dakota, as a monument to four Presidents, but land surveyors see it as "three surveyors and one other guy." Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln all were land surveyors. George Washington was sixteen years old when he went with Joshua Fry to survey the great Fairfax Grant in Northwest Virginia. Thomas Jefferson followed in his father;s footsteps and became a land surveyor. He was appointed County Surveyor of Albemarle County, Virginia.

In May of 1784, Jefferson presented the Public Land Survey System to the Continental Congress as a way to describe the lands known as the Northwest Territory. This system is still used today. Abraham Lincoln, while living in New Salem, was appointed Deputy County Surveyor in 1833 by John Calhoun, Sangamon County Surveyor. Between 1833 and 1837 Lincoln performed about thirty farm surveys and several road surveys. Lincoln also laid out the towns of Albany, Bath, Huron, Petersburg, and New Boston.

In 1832, while living in New Salem, Lincoln ran for the office of Illinois State Representative but was defeated. In 1834, however, after becoming known as a trusted and fair land surveyor, he ran again and won. Lincoln's background in land surveying also proved to be valuable during his legal career. In 1839, Lincoln used his knowledge of surveying when he was called on by the Court to survey a disputed section of land in Sangamon County. His professional survey ended the dispute.

Thomas Jefferson devised a way to divide the land of the Northwest Territory into rectangular sections, making it easier to sell to the early settlers. Government Surveyors started laying out the sections in 1804. They sent their survey notes to St. Louis where the Township Plats were drawn. The plats were then sent to the Government Land Offices where settlers would view them before purchasing their land. Early Illinois settlers could visit the Government Land Office in Springfield, which was opened in 1822. Eleven years later, in 1833, young Abraham Lincoln visited the Land Office to learn where the original surveying monuments were set. Walter Davis, who Congressman Lincoln would later endorse as land receiver, kept his office on the second floor of a building here on the north side of the public square.

Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 at 7:19pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 273269 N 4409118
Decimal Degrees39.80183333, -89.64836667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 48.11', W 89° 38.902'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 48' 6.60" N, 89° 38' 54.12" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 525 E Washington St, Springfield IL 62701, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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