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Springfield in Sangamon County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Virgil Hickox Home

Looking for Lincoln

 
 
Virgil Hickox Home Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, September 15, 2015
1. Virgil Hickox Home Marker
Inscription.  Virgil Hickox was one of many local people who disagreed politically with Abraham Lincoln.

Raised in the traditions of Jeffersonian Democracy as a youth in New York, he settled in Springfield in 1834 and became a prosperous merchant, railroad promoter, and banker. He was an important supporter of Stephen Douglas. Republicans attacked him during the 1858 Senatorial contest for having his railroad company provide Douglas with a private train car for use in his statewide canvas against Lincoln. "Huge corporations... [are making] electioneering machines of themselves," critics complained. Hickox insisted that the arrangement was not free (Douglas reportedly spent $50,000 on the Senate campaign — a tremendous sum in those days; some of it probably compensated the railroad). Hickox was among the Sangamon County majority that opposed Lincoln in 1858 and in both presidential elections (Lincoln never carried his home county in these contests). Politics didn't prevent Lincoln and Hickox from enjoying cordial professional relations, however. "I have always found Mr. Hickox a fair man in his dealings," Lincoln once wrote a law client.

Stephen
Marker detail: Virgil Hickox & Stephen Douglas image. Click for full size.
Courtesy Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
2. Marker detail: Virgil Hickox & Stephen Douglas
Douglas’s Famous Last Letter — dated May 10, 1861
— was addressed to Virgil Hickox, the state's Democratic Central Committee chairman. Hickox (left) worried that Democrats were confused by Douglas's apparent flip-flop in support of Lincoln's military response to Southern secession. Hickox warned that previous Douglas speeches had conditioned Democrats "to believe that Mr. Lincoln has no constitutional right to pursue his present course." In what is apparently the last letter Douglas ever wrote, he denied becoming a Republican apologist, and reminded the party faithful "that a man cannot be a true Democrat unless he is a loyal patriot." Hickox counseled Douglas (right) to keep the letter private pending further events. But Douglas's father-in-law ignored Hickox's instruction and published it anyway. Douglas died soon thereafter. His parting sentiments helped solidify Northern support behind Lincoln at the start of the war.
 
Erected by State of Illinois Historic Preservation Agency & Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Government & Politics. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Looking for Lincoln series lists.
 
Location. 39° 
Marker detail: Virgil Hickox Home image. Click for full size.
Courtesy Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
3. Marker detail: Virgil Hickox Home
This 1902 photo is the oldest known picture of the Hickox home (across the street). Hickox built it in 1839 and enlarged it several times afterwards. It is the oldest single family residence still standing in downtown Springfield. Hickox died in 1880, but the home's notoriety as a political hang-out continued. It housed Springfield's first private men's club; during prohibition there was a "speakeasy" in the basement. From Lincoln's time to the present, many prominent Illinois politicians have congregated here.
47.903′ N, 89° 38.92′ W. Marker is in Springfield, Illinois, in Sangamon County. Marker is on East Capitol Avenue west of South 6th Street, on the right when traveling west. Marker is located along the sidewalk, overlooking the subject Virgil Hickox Home on the opposite side of Capitol Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 501 East Capitol Avenue, Springfield IL 62701, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Leaping Lincoln (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Republican Wigwams (about 400 feet away); The Children's Lincoln (about 700 feet away); Mary Lincoln's Family (about 700 feet away); Lincoln's Carriage Maker (about 700 feet away); Animal Problems (about 700 feet away); Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices (about 700 feet away); Departure Point of The Donner Party (about 800 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Springfield.
 
Regarding Virgil Hickox Home. National Register of Historic Places #82002600.
 
Also see . . .
1. Virgil Hickox House (Wikipedia). The Hickox family remodeled their house several times; when they moved out in 1880, it had largely taken its present form, with an Italianate design featuring bracketed eaves and long arched windows. The Sangamo Club, a private men's club, opened in the building in 1895 and remained there for
Marker detail: Virgil Hickox Home<br>(<i>left panel</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, September 15, 2015
4. Marker detail: Virgil Hickox Home
(left panel)
over fifteen years. The building became a speakeasy during Prohibition and continued to serve alcohol afterwards as The Norb Andy's Tabarin. The tavern became and remains popular with state legislators. (Submitted on September 19, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Virgil Hickox. Virgil Hickox (1806-80) was a Springfield merchant, mill operator and bank and railroad investor. He also was a close friend of Stephen Douglas and managed Douglas’ successful 1858 U.S. Senate campaign against Abraham Lincoln. Hickox’s home on Capitol Avenue, known also as the site of the Norb Andy Tabarin, has been designated a city landmark by the Springfield Historic Sites Commission. (Submitted on September 19, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Marker detail: Stephen Douglas's Famous Last Letter<br>(<i>right panel</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, September 15, 2015
5. Marker detail: Stephen Douglas's Famous Last Letter
(right panel)
Virgil Hickox Home Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, September 15, 2015
6. Virgil Hickox Home Marker
Virgil Hickox Home (<i>directly across Capitol Avenue from marker</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, September 15, 2015
7. Virgil Hickox Home (directly across Capitol Avenue from marker)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 19, 2020. It was originally submitted on September 18, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 50 times since then. Photos:   1. submitted on September 18, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   2. submitted on September 19, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on September 18, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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Oct. 29, 2020