The Pike House
Looking for Lincoln
"While I am writing speakers are addressing the people from the portico of the Pike House." Thus wrote the correspondent of the Chicago Democrat Press on the morning of May 29, 1856. The Anti-Nebraska Convention was scheduled to meet later that day. These speakers were denouncing the Nebraska Act passed under the leadership of Stephen A. Douglas, Illinois's "Little Giant." The writer noted that Douglas' chief nemesis, Abraham Lincoln, had spoken from the same portico the previous evening, May 28. Lincoln's speech was brief because, as the Springfield Illinois State Register noted, "he would make a most excellent one" the following day at the convention. Referring to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise line, the Register wrote Lincoln "told his owl story about the fence (meaning the Missouri restriction) being torn down and the cattle eating up the crops, then talked about the outrages in Kansas, said a man couldn't think, dream or breathe of a free state there, but what he was kicked, cuffed, shot down and hung..." Elihu Washburne, John Palmer, Leonard Swett, and Owen Lovejoy also spoke at
Abraham Lincoln was a frequent guest at the Pike House, a four story wooden structure "considered palatial in its day." Located on the corner of North and Center streets, it opened to great fanfare on June 30, 1854. On June 29, 1855, Lincoln checked into the hotel, briefly named the Matteson House (it having been sold to Massewin Matteson and Herman Hickok who defaulted). Lincoln spent the night there before continuing to Chicago for cases pending before the U.S. Court, Northern District of Illinois. One year later, Meshach Pike retained Lincoln in a suit before the McLean County Circuit Court for damages. Although Pike lost, he regained ownership of the hotel.
Although great political rivals, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas were also friends. On at least one occasion they dined together at the Pike House, in 1857 or 1858. Douglas had many supporters in Bloomington including Mary Gridley, wife of Asahel Gridley who backed Lincoln. As Bloomington attorney Lawrence Weldon told the story, Douglas had brought his recent bride, Adele Cutts Douglas from Washington D.C. to Illinois "where he took great delight in introducing his wife to his numerous friends." Douglas was beginning his campaign for re-election to the Senate in 1858. Senator and Mrs. Douglas had recently returned from a tour of Europe and as Mrs. Douglas described it
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Government & Politics • Industry & Commerce. 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 1856.
Location. 40° 28.872′ N, 88° 59.673′ W. Marker is in Bloomington, Illinois, in McLean County. Marker is at the intersection of West Monroe Street and Nortth Center Street on West Monroe Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 108 W Monroe St, 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. Bloomington, Illinois (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Risk of the Road (about 400 feet away); Abraham Lincoln - Eighth Judicial District (about 500 feet away); World War II War Memorial (about 500 feet away); Center Street Site (about 500 feet away); Lincoln The Lawyer (about 600 feet away); The Phoenix Block (about 600 feet away); Phoenix Hall (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bloomington.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 29, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 16, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 655 times since then and 113 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on July 16, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. 2. submitted on September 29, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. 3. submitted on July 16, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.