Choosing a President
Looking for Lincoln
In February 1860 the Illinois State Republican Central Committee met in Springfield, Illinois. There the Committee selected Decatur as the site for the upcoming State Republican Convention. The site selected for the Convention was located on South State Street and occupied both the street itself and the vacant lots on either side. the entrance faced South Park Street. The Convention went largely to plan by the Republican delegates, notwithstanding attempts by some northern Illinois delegates to vote for William Seward. On May 10th the Convention passed the following resolution: That Abraham Lincoln is the first choice of Illinois for the Presidency, and that our delegates be instructed to use all honorable means for his nomination at the Chicago convention, and to cast their votes as a unit for him." Less than a week later the National Republican Convention opened in Chicago, and true to instructions, the Illinois delegates nominated Abraham Lincoln for the Presidency - a move that was to gain Lincoln the coveted nomination for President. This nomination, started in Decatur, ultimately led to Abraham Lincoln being elected
Borrowing from the Native American definition of a "temporary structure," the Republican "Wigwam" was made ready for the opening of the Convention on May 9, 1860. The structure needed to be large enough to accommodate 2,500 people. To do so would require an enclosure 100 feet wide and seventy feet deep. To allow for this, Richard Oglesby, future three-term governor, one-term U. S. Senator from Illinois, and a Decatur resident secured a large tent for the purpose, supposedly supplied by a circus company. The only wooden components were the speaker's stand and the poles that held the tent up.
An interesting and humorous event occurred shortly after the beginning of the convention, while Lincoln tried to maintain an unassuming role. As the convention began, Richard Oglesby, promptly made a motion: "I am informed that a distinguished citizen of Illinois and one whom Illinois will ever delight to honor is present, and I wish to move that this body invite him to a seat on the stand - Abraham Lincoln." The delegates roared loudly trying to push Lincoln through the immense crowd to the front of the stage. The crowd, however, was too dense for Lincoln to penetrate. he was then lifted bodily into the air - the delegates called it "troosted" - and passed over the heads and shoulders of the audience.Much to Lincoln's relief, he was finally passed to the stand, taking his seat to the continuing roar of the crowd.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Government & Politics. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Looking for Lincoln series lists.
Location. 39° 50.524′ N, 88° 57.324′ W. Marker is in Decatur, Illinois, in Macon County. Marker is at the intersection of West Prairie Ave. and North Main Street on West Prairie Ave.. 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. Abraham Lincoln's First Political Speech (within shouting distance of this marker); The Railsplitter Candidate (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Macon County's First Court House (about 300 feet away); Let Us All Be United (about 300 feet away); The Transfer House (about 600 feet away); Lincoln's Legacy (about 600 feet away); Birthplace of the Grand Army of the Republic (about 600 feet away); Music Please, Maestro (about 700 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 422 times since then and 37 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on June 29, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.