Asahel Gridley's Bank
Looking for Lincoln
"My line of defense is going to be that your tongue is no slanderer...that the people generally know you to be, impulsive and say things that you do not mean, and they do not consider what you say as slander," was Lincoln's defense of Gridley in a slander suit brought by William Flagg. Known for emphatic language and intemperate outbursts. Gridley was a key element in the development of Central Illinois. At Jesse Fell's encouragement, Gridley became a lawyer. As a lawyer, as a plaintiff, and as a defendant, he crossed legal paths with Lincoln over one hundred times. Gridley was an advocate for fair dealing with black Illinoisans. In 1853, while in the state legislature, he opposed laws to oppress African-Americans as a backdoor attempt to bring slavery into Illinois. With these principles, he was elected to the State Central Committee of the newly organized Illinois Republican Party. He used his influence to ensure that both the Illinois Central Railroad and the Chicago and Mississippi Railroad would pass through Bloomington. Later, serving as land agent for the Illinois Central, he made over $80,000, and upon this his fortune
By 1856, Asahel Gridley was coming off his success as land agent for the Illinois Central Railroad; had acquired full ownership of the McLean County Bank and moved into his new bank building (pictured on the left). This Italianate building, restored in 1994, was built to house the bank. While running the bank, Gridley's business interests expanded. He took control of the gas manufacturing plant and expanded its production and customer base. Gridley had an unfailing ability to make money from new technologies, coupled with a deep understanding of finance. Lincoln, who represented the Illinois Central Railroad in many matters and was also engaged with Gridley in other legal work, often visited here.
An impatient Asahel Gridley telegraphed to Lincoln on December 12, 1859, "Hon. A. Lincoln When will you come The Flagg case wants attention A.Gridley"
Telegraphy, electric communication with simple code, was the email of the pr-Civil War era. Sets of long and short signals were sent through copper wire. The signals were codes that represented letters of the alphabet. messages sent were written out in longhand by the telegraph operator. The message, called a telegram, was then personally delivered by hand to the recipient of the message. The first telegraph was installed in Bloomington in 1853. Gridley was an investor in the local company. Lincoln became
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Communications • Industry & Commerce • Railroads & Streetcars. 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 December 1881.
Location. 40° 28.717′ N, 88° 59.6′ W. Marker is in Bloomington, Illinois, in McLean County. Marker is on E. Front Street just east of Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Bloomington IL 61701, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Miller-Davis Buildings (a few steps from this marker); Miller-Davis Building (within shouting distance of this marker); The Lost Speech (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named The Lost Speech (within shouting distance of this marker); Major's Hall (within shouting distance of this marker); The National Hotel (within shouting distance of this marker); The Rounds Block (within shouting distance of this marker); Sigmund Livingston (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bloomington.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 2, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 10, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 639 times since then and 47 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 10, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.