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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Pontiac in Livingston County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Lincoln Speaks at Church

Looking for Lincoln

 
 
Left Section - - Lincoln Speaks at Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By Al Wolf, April 10, 2010
1. Left Section - - Lincoln Speaks at Church Marker
(Click any of these photos to see details.)
Inscription.  

Left Section

Abraham Lincoln spoke in
the little Presbyterian Church

on the northwest corner of
Livingston and Mill streets on
Jan. 27, 1860, shortly before being nominated for the presidency at the Republican National Convention in Chicago on May 16. Lincoln had received two invitations to speak to the Young Men’s Literary Society from his friend Jason W. Strevell, a prominent young attorney of Pontiac and President of the group, which was composed of educated young men who met to debate issues of the day and hold instructive entertainments. It was not known until noon that day that Lincoln would appear, but a crowded house greeted the future president. Lincoln told the group he was “very, very tired,” having just returned from the East, where he had been on the road continuously and “was worn out talking on political subjects.” Reviews of the speech were mixed. Many were disappointed in his topic, “The Wheel and Axle,” having wanted him to speak on the great question confronting the American people - - slavery. Strevell,
Center Section - - Lincoln Speaks at Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By Al Wolf, April 10, 2010
2. Center Section - - Lincoln Speaks at Church Marker
Click or scan to see
this page online
in a letter to his son in 1901, said the lecture was one of the most interesting he had heard “before or since.”

Middle Section

Although Strevell thought it a most interesting lecture, Augustus Cowan who founded the first abstract company here, wrote his sweetheart: “. . . last night the citizens of Pontiac were favored with a lecture by Hon. Abe Lincoln. . . . He is a “Big Gun” in the political world, but—I think the people generally were disappointed. . . . He was, I thought, decidedly inferior to many a lecturer I heard. . . .“ But, then, Mr. Cowan was a Democrat.

Right Section

On May 19, 1857 lots were deeded to both the Methodist and Presbyterian churches and a sharp rivalry developed as to which would erect and dedicate Pontiac’s first church building. The Presbyterians won the race, dedicating their church in November that year, about thirty days ahead of the Methodists. Families rented pews as a means of supporting the church. The first Presbyterian service in Pontiac had been held in Buck’s Tavern in 1852, after which services were held several times in the first courthouse. The church officially organized in November 1855, and regular preaching began in the small schoolhouse on the Livingston County Jail grounds. By 1874, the building where
Right Section - - Lincoln Speaks at Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By Al Wolf, April 10, 2010
3. Right Section - - Lincoln Speaks at Church Marker
Lincoln spoke had become too small for the congregation, and it was sold to Wallace Lord who moved it to Howard Street to be used as an opera house.
 
Erected 2009 by The City of Pontiac.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Government & PoliticsNotable Events. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Looking for Lincoln series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is May 1903.
 
Location. 40° 52.926′ N, 88° 37.802′ W. Marker is in Pontiac, Illinois, in Livingston County. Marker is on West Livingston Street, on the right when traveling west. Located on the south lawn of the First Presbyterian Church. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 209 West Livingston Street, Pontiac IL 61764, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Pontiac City Hall and Fire Station (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Original Route 66 Wishing Well & Sign Countryside, Illinois 1941-2007 (about 500 feet away); Original Washington Street Route 66 Bricks (about 500 feet away); The Bob Waldmire Road Yacht (about 500 feet away); Historic Route 66 Illinois (about 500 feet away); Pontiac, Illinois (about 600 feet away); Lincoln Visits Strevell
Center Section - - Sketch image. Click for full size.
By Al Wolf, April 10, 2010
4. Center Section - - Sketch
Courtesy of Lisa Mayback
(about 600 feet away); Livingston County War Memorial (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pontiac.
 
Also see . . .
1. Visit Pontiac: Attractions. This web link has a number of links to other historic items in Pontiac, Illinois. Informative and very helpful. (Submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.) 

2. Travel with Lincoln. Climb into Lincoln’s buggy and take a trip with Lincoln and his fellow lawyers on the job traveling Illinois as Circuit Lawyers. See all the Lincoln Circuit Markers (and a surprise or two), in the order of his travels while a member of the Circuit of the Eighth Judicial District (of Illinois) during 1847-1857. Use the “First >>” button in the upper right to see these markers in sequence, starting from Springfield. (Submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.) 

3. Looking for Lincoln Video - on P. B. S. Follow Henry Louis Gates, Jr. "...from Illinois, to Gettysburg, to Washington, D. C., and face to face with people who live with Lincoln every day..." (Submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.) 

4. Looking for Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area entry:
Many resources for the Tracking of Lincoln through History and Illinois. Aimed at all ages. (Submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
Right Section - - Sketch image. Click for full size.
By Al Wolf, April 10, 2010
5. Right Section - - Sketch
The original unsigned sketch and painting of the first Presbyterian church building was drawn by Catharine Yost for the Centennial from a newspaper clipping loaned by Grace Williams (The Williams Mill Street Mill)

Courtesy of City of Pontiac
 
 
Full View - - Lincoln Speaks at Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By Al Wolf, April 10, 2010
6. Full View - - Lincoln Speaks at Church Marker
Looking North/West - - Lincoln Speaks at Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By Al Wolf, April 10, 2010
7. Looking North/West - - Lincoln Speaks at Church Marker
Wide View - - Lincoln Speaks at Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By Al Wolf, April 10, 2010
8. Wide View - - Lincoln Speaks at Church Marker
Marker can be seen in the lower left of photo. Also note the church bell to the lower center.
<- - - Marker & Church Bell image. Click for full size.
By Al Wolf, April 10, 2010
9. <- - - Marker & Church Bell
1872 Church Bell - Markings image. Click for full size.
By Al Wolf, April 10, 2010
10. 1872 Church Bell - Markings
(Click photo to see details.) Readable casted markings: ". . . Troy. N. Y. 1872." (There seems to also be the number five ("5) on the lower section.)
Pontiac - First Presbyterian Church image. Click for full size.
By Al Wolf, April 10, 2010
11. Pontiac - First Presbyterian Church
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 22, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. This page has been viewed 809 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. submitted on April 12, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 23, 2021