Looking for Lincoln
Quincy's Eliza Caldwell Browning and Abraham Lincoln first met in 1836. She was a new bride, and he had just received his law license. When Eliza discovered Lincoln's "great merits," the two established an easy rapport. Their nearly thirty-year friendship began when Eliza's husband Orville H. Browning, was elected to the Illinois Senate. Lincoln was a state representative. The friendship lasted until Lincoln's death in 1865. It was Lincoln's longest ongoing female relationship. In the early years, Lincoln became "very much attached" to Eliza, and she remained a part of his private and political world. Eliza, a genteel woman, and Lincoln, a self-educated man, shared intellectual interests, a love of storytelling, emotional trials, and political ideals. Over the years the Brownings, unlike any other friends, visited informally in the Lincoln home. When Lincoln's son, Willie, died in the White House in 1862, Senator Browning and Eliza stayed with Willie's body all night and "received" for the Lincolns in the Green room before the funeral. The Lincolns would "not consent" to Eliza leaving after the service.
Eliza Browning welcomed Lincoln to the Browning Mansion after a parade-rally the morning of the Lincoln-Douglas Debate. Known for her great hospitality, Eliza hosted Lincoln during his stay in Quincy. She served lunch for a few guests before the debate, and afterward friends escorted Lincoln to the Square. In the evening he stood between the imposing front columns of the Browning home, shaking hands with throngs of supporters. Lincoln spent the night at the Browning home before leaving for Alton the next day.
In 1838 Lincoln wrote a long, saucy letter to Eliza about an unsuccessful matchmaking agreement. At one point stating, "privately between you and me," this highly personal letter suggests a clear level of ease between Eliza and Lincoln. In witty fashion Lincoln described the events and ultimate refusal of his marriage proposal to a woman before his relationship with Mary Todd. Eliza believed for more than twenty years that the amusing letter was one of Lincoln's storytelling inventions. At the White House in 1862 Eliza asked Lincoln about it, learning there was "more truth in that letter" than she had assumed. Lincoln asked her to keep it in confidence. The Mary Owens letter was not published until 1872. Viewed as a letter written in confidence, Eliza kept it private
Erected by State of Illinois Historic Preservation Agency & Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Government & Politics. In addition, it is included in the Looking for Lincoln series list.
Location. 39° 55.986′ N, 91° 24.206′ W. Marker is in Quincy, Illinois, in Adams County. Marker is at the intersection of North 8th Street and Hampshire Street on North 8th Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 733 Hampshire Street, Quincy IL 62301, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Warm, Sincere Friendship (here, next to this marker); The Browning House (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Original Site of Quincy College (about 500 feet away); Original Site of St. Peter Church (about 500 feet away); World Trade Center Artifact (about 500 feet away); Augustine Tolton (about 600 feet away); In Memory of the Potawatomi Indian "Trail of Death" (about 600 feet away); Lincoln's Honored Friend (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Quincy.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 8, 2019. It was originally submitted on August 24, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 479 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on August 24, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.