In Their Springfield Prime
Looking for Lincoln
1854 marked Lincoln's public return to politics following a five-year hiatus. That year Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois pushed the "Kansas-Nebraska Act" through the U.S. Congress, overturning the 1820 Missouri Compromise line. Fearing the spread of slavery to western territories, Abraham Lincoln was aroused "as he had never been before."
Contemporaries considered the speech he delivered here in the Old State Capitol on October 4, 1854 to be "one of the ablest & most effective of his life," and identified this as "the occasion of his becoming a great antislavery leader." Lincoln spoke for three hours, proclaiming: "(M)y ancient faith teaches me that 'all men are created equal'; and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man's making a slave of another."
Republican newspapers boasted that Douglas had never before endured "such a remorseless tearing of his flimsy arguments." Lincoln repeated the speech in Peoria two weeks later, and it has come down in history as the "Peoria Speech." Historians consider it to be one of Lincoln's most significant addresses.
Mary Todd Lincoln was heard to scold her
In Mary's time, women were expected to be the family's guardian of morality and Christian conduct. Gentrifying her husband conformed to Mary's expected marital role. Unlike conventional political wives of her day, however, Mary was openly ambitious for her husband's success and assertive in giving him political advise. The recipient of much criticism, Mary paid a price for being ahead of her time.
Left: This picture of Lincoln at age 56 is his second earliest known photograph. It was taken in October 1854 in Chicago just three weeks after he gave his stirring antislavery speech in Springfield's Old State Capitol.
Right: Mary was age 36 in 1854. There is no known photo of her from that year. Mary did not like to have her picture taken. She thought photos mad her hands too large and her features too fat. Here she appears in 1860 at age 42.
Erected by State
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Communications • Women. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Looking for Lincoln series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1854.
Location. 39° 48.032′ N, 89° 38.886′ W. Marker is in Springfield, Illinois, in Sangamon County. Marker is at the intersection of South 6th Street and E Adams Street, on the right when traveling south on South 6th Street. "Lincoln's Springfield" marker is attached to the back. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2 S Old State Capitol Plaza, 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. Lincoln's Springfield (here, next to this marker); Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices (here, next to this marker); Streetscape 1859 (a few steps from this marker); The Lincoln Boys in 1854 (a few steps from this marker); Old State Capitol (a few steps from this marker); Barack Obama Campaign Announcements (a few steps from this marker); C. M. & S. Smith Store (within shouting distance of this marker); The Bath & Barber Shop (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Springfield.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 14, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 20, 2011, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 513 times since then and 27 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on October 20, 2011, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. 5. submitted on November 14, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.