Alton in Madison County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Setting the Stage for the Great Debate
In 1858, great debates were staged for the public with carnival-like appeal. People came from across Illinois and nearby states to witness the last debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. Farmers began to arrive in the city early in the morning. By noon, boats from St. Louis and trains from the North were beginning to arrive.
Both Lincoln and Stephen Douglas came to Alton from Quincy by steamboat early in the morning. Mary Todd Lincoln came by train from Springfield to support her husband with their eldest son Robert, who was a fourth corporal in the Springfield Cadets.
"I always assume my audiences are wiser than I am, and I say the most sensible thing I can to them and I never found that they did not understand me." - Abraham Lincoln
·The Lincoln family: Mary Todd, William, Robert, Thomas, and Abraham Lincoln. Robert was the only one of Lincoln's children to reach maturity.
·Many newspapers published transcriptions of each debate. At the time, newspapers were very partisan, and editors and transcribers often improved the speeches of their favorite candidates.
·Located in the oldest stretch of the original town, the Franklin House (shown here in 1912) was one of Alton's largest and finest hotels in the 1840s and 1850s
·Mary Todd Lincoln was a bridesmaid in the wedding of a prominent Alton resident, Lyman Trumbull, whose wife helped write the anonymous letter that sparked the duel between Lincoln and Shields. Learn more about the Trumbulls at the exhibit in Haskell Park.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Communications • Government & Politics. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Looking for Lincoln series lists.
Location. 38° 53.452′ N, 90° 11.307′ W. Marker is in Alton, Illinois, in Madison County. Marker is on State Street north of West Broadway (Illinois Route 100), on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 200 State St, Alton IL 62002, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Godfrey, Gilman & Co. Warehouse (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Ruins of First State Prison in Illinois (about 300 feet away); Miles Davis (about 300 feet away); Alton & Sangamon Railroad (about 800 feet away); Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Alton (approx. 0.2 miles away); Lincoln-Douglas Debates! (approx. 0.2 miles away); Discover History All Around Alton (approx. 0.2 miles away); St. Paul's Episcopal Church (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Alton.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 14, 2021. It was originally submitted on January 13, 2021, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. This page has been viewed 39 times since then. Photo 1. submitted on January 13, 2021, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.
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