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

The American House

Looking for Lincoln

— 1838 —

 
 
The American House Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Beverly Pfingsten, June 16, 2011
1. The American House Marker
Inscription.  
Social galas and political functions were common at the American House. Stephen A.Douglas sometimes used the hotel as headquarters for the Democrats. (Below Left) A newspaper published Springfield's newest hotel under the direction of J. Clifton, a former Bostonian. (Below Right) Lampoon of former U.S. President Martin Van Buren who stayed here in 1842. Springfield voters never gave him a majority in any of the three elections in which he ran for president. But most found him congenial on a personal level.

For many years the grandest hotel in Lincoln's Springfield was the American House. When it opened in November 1838, an Ohio editor extolled the "Turkish splendor" of its interior, stating that the carpeting, papering, and furniture "weary the eye with magnificence." On winter evenings when Springfield was full of visitors attending the state legislature, the hotel housed popular Cotillion parties. A December 1840 guest recorded in her diary a scene from the "Ladies' Parlor" during a party:
"a number of the ladies carried bundles in their arms and were accompanied by maids. The bundles, which were a mystery to
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me, were deposited on the bed, where the mystery soon developed, for the bundles began to kick and squeal, as hungry babies will. The mothers, after performing their maternal duties, wrapped the infants up again and left them with many changes to nursemaids not to mix them up. The ladies were handsomely dressed, but not in the latest style. They wore handsome gowns of silk and satin, made with low necks and short sleeves."


Tradition holds that Lincoln escorted former president Martin Van Buren here in June 1842. Van Buren was a Democrat. Lincoln was a Whig. But Lincoln's renown for humor purportedly earned him an invitation to meet with Van Buren at the nearby village of Rochester. For one enjoyable evening, the future president is said to have entertained the former president with his wit and stories. The next day local citizens escorted Van Buren into the city. Here at the American House the former president received crowds of callers and enjoyed a party in his honor. Van Buren had been portrayed as something as a "dandy" by political opponents. Many in Springfield were surprised to find him "an open, frank, plainly dressed man."
 
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: Notable Buildings
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. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #08 Martin Van Buren, the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Looking for Lincoln series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is June 1842.
 
Location. 39° 48.027′ N, 89° 38.865′ W. Marker is in Springfield, Illinois, in Sangamon County. Marker is at the intersection of Southeast Old State Capitol Plaza and East Adams Street, on the left when traveling south on Southeast Old State Capitol Plaza. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 300 E Adams Street, 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. Elijah Iles' American House Hotel (here, next to this marker); Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices (within shouting distance of this marker); In Their Springfield Prime (within shouting distance of this marker); Lincoln's Springfield (within shouting distance of this marker); Streetscape 1859 (within shouting distance of this marker); The Lincoln Boys in 1854 (within shouting distance of this marker); Barack Obama Campaign Announcements (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Springfield.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 12, 2022. It was originally submitted on October 20, 2011, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 583 times since then and 84 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on October 20, 2011, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.

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Jul. 18, 2024