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Decatur in Macon County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Finding the Biggest Man

Looking for Lincoln

 
 
Finding the Biggest Man Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, October 10, 2021
1. Finding the Biggest Man Marker
Inscription.  During the State Republican convention, local photographer, E. A. Barnwell, owner of the People's Ambrotype Gallery in Decatur, decided to seek out the “biggest” man among the Convention participants. According to oral tradition, Barnwell was interested in finding the tallest man in stature. What he found out from people was that the “biggest” man in stature and in importance were both one and the same —Abraham Lincoln. On May 9, 1860, Barnwell asked Lincoln to come to his gallery, located just around the corner from the convention. There Lincoln posed for a portrait and was rewarded with the only known photograph of himself in Decatur. The next day, May 10th, Lincoln was nominated as the presidential candidate by the Illinois Republicans. Later, on May 18th, 1860, when Lincoln was nominated by the National Republican Convention held in Chicago, the delegates were showered with prints made from an Alexander Hesler photograph. Unfortunately, there were no known prints of the Barnwell photograph used during any part of the 1860 presidential campaign.

Abraham Lincoln has always been fascinated with advances in
Finding the Biggest Man Marker detail image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, October 10, 2021
2. Finding the Biggest Man Marker detail
E.A. Barnwell's picture of Abraham Lincoln on May 9, 1860 — the day before Illinois Republicans nominated Lincoln as their presidential candidate.
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technology and science. This fascination was especially evident in the ever-advancing field of photography. Unlike many men who became president before him, Lincoln seemed to have a sense of history that photography provided. Modern photography had not been invented until 1839, but in a short period of twenty-one years, Lincoln was photographed at least thirty-nine times before becoming president in November 1860. Many of these photographs were taken in conjunction with important events in Lincoln's own life. These times included important law cases, as when his 1857 Hesler photograph was taken; or when he went to New York to give his Cooper Union Address, where Mathew Brady took his portrait, causing Lincoln to say, “Brady and the Cooper Institute made me President

Captions/credits
[Top] The image of Abraham Lincoln, done by E.A. Barnwell may have been lost to posterity except for the photographer's daughter, Grace R. Barnwell. A retired elementary school teacher, Grace Barnwell walked into the Decatur Public Library in November 1947 and gave the only known photographic print to the Library, explaining that she wanted the photograph returned to the city where her father had taken it. Courtesy of Decatur Public Library
[Bottom, left] Abraham Lincoln Courtesy of the City of Decatur, Lincoln Heritage
Finding the Biggest Man Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, October 10, 2021
3. Finding the Biggest Man Marker
A silhouette of a sitting Lincoln is in front of the marker.
Project

[Bottom, right] Abraham Lincoln Courtesy of the City of Decatur, Lincoln Heritage Project
 
Erected by Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition • City of Decatur, Lincoln Heritage Development.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, MusicScience & Medicine. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Looking for Lincoln series lists. A significant historical date for this entry is May 9, 1860.
 
Location. 39° 50.508′ N, 88° 57.256′ W. Marker is in Decatur, Illinois, in Macon County. Marker is on North Water Street north of East Main Street, on the right when traveling north. Marker is mounted on a utility building. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 130 N Water St, Decatur IL 62523, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Railsplitter Candidate (within shouting distance of this marker); Wake Up, Lincoln! (within shouting distance of this marker); Lincoln's Legacy (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Birthplace of the Grand Army of the Republic (about 300 feet away); Choosing a President (about 300 feet away); Abraham Lincoln's First Political Speech (about
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400 feet away); Lincoln's First Speech (about 400 feet away); The Transfer House (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Decatur.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 15, 2021. It was originally submitted on October 15, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 140 times since then and 79 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on October 15, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
 
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Jul. 4, 2022