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

Lincoln's Legacy

Looking for Lincoln

Lincoln's Legacy Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bill Pfingsten, June 8, 2012
1. Lincoln's Legacy Marker
During his presidency, Abraham Lincoln had promised to care for the men in the armed services-and for their widows and orphans. Lincoln was unable, however, to keep that promise. In response, the Grand Army of the Republic or G.A.R. emerged as the most powerful of the post-Civil War organizations. it was the idea of Dr. Benjamin E. Stephenson, a former surgeon in the Fourteenth Illinois Infantry. Dr. Stephenson had been motivated by President Lincoln's promise. In the beginning, the G.A.R. was an organization of Union veterans with three objectives; fraternity, charity and loyalty. Membership in the G.A.R. was limited to honorably discharged Union veterans who served during the years 1861-1865. The organization soon became one of the most powerful political organizations in the United States. By the year 1890, there were over 400,000 members, and political candidates for national office sought the prestigious endorsements of the G.A.R. In addition, the G.A.R. became well known for supporting the idea of Memorial Day, and establishing veterans' homes throughout the nation.

This image shows the original charter for

G.A.R. Charter image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bill Pfingsten, June 8, 2012
2. G.A.R. Charter
Click or scan to see
this page online
the Grand Army of the Republic. The name for the G.A.R. was inspired by Napoleon's Grand Army of France. Five members of the G.A.R. were elected to the Presidency of the United States; Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison and William McKinley. Since the G.A.R. was based on Civil War service, it was formally dissolved when its last living member, Albert Woolson, died in 1956 at age 109.

While the G.A.R. is best remembered as a national organization, the very first chapter was organized in Decatur, which was chosen as the location partially because there was a printing shop owned and run by two union veterans, I. N. Coltrin and Joseph Prior. These two men had been approached by Dr. Stephenson's Fields, Robert Mann Woods and John S. Phelps to print up the first by-laws and rituals for the new organization. Veterans showed so much enthusiasm toward Dr. Stephenson's idea that, on April 6, 1866, in a small room on the second floor of a building located at 253 South Park Street, the twelve original members chartered Decatur as "Post No. 1, Grand Army of the Republic."
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Fraternal or Sororal OrganizationsWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in

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the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, the Former U.S. Presidents: #20 James A. Garfield, the Former U.S. Presidents: #23 Benjamin Harrison, the Former U.S. Presidents: #25 William McKinley, and the Looking for Lincoln series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is April 1795.
Location. 39° 50.529′ N, 88° 57.198′ W. Marker is in Decatur, Illinois, in Macon County. Marker is on South Park Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: 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. Birthplace of the Grand Army of the Republic (here, next to this marker); Music Please, Maestro (within shouting distance of this marker); The Transfer House (within shouting distance of this marker); Finding the Biggest Man (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Railsplitter Candidate (about 300 feet away); Wake Up, Lincoln! (about 400 feet away); Choosing a President (about 600 feet away); Stephen Decatur (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Decatur.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 2, 2020. It was originally submitted on June 29, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 542 times since then and 47 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 29, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.

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Oct. 5, 2022