Mattoon in Coles County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Lincoln's Last Visit / The Debaters in Mattoon
óLooking for Lincoln ó
Abraham Lincolnís last visit to Cole County was indeed of a personal nature. Lincoln was described as he left Springfield by Henry C. Whitney, who accompanied him part of the way on the train: “. . . [Lincoln wore] a faded hat, innocent of nap; and his coat was extremely short, more like a sailors pea-jacket than any other describable garment. It was the same outer garment that he wore from Harrisburg to Washington when he went to be inaugurated. A well worn carpet-bag, quite collapsed, comprised his baggage.”
Lincolnís visit on January 30, 1861, was noted in the “Mattoon Gazette” under the title “ĎOld Abeí Loose,” by the editor, W. P. Harding: “Mr. Lincoln seems to have made a temporary escape from the office seeking host at Springfield, passed through this place last Wednesday evening. He came on the regular evening train from Chicago, and went on the freight to Charleston, from which we understand from Hon. T. A. Marshall, who accompanied him, he will soon return to Springfield. Thinking it none of our business what Mr. Lincolnís business in Charleston was, we made no inquiries; and having seen him frequently, we concluded that as we wanted no office and could get none even if we did, we would not
Railroads, while greatly shortening travel time in Abraham Lincolnís day, pale in comparison to todayís modes of high-speed transportation. While the journey from Springfield to Mattoon today can be accomplished in less than two hours, Lincolnís journey from Springfield, through Mattoon, and on to Charleston took him over eight hours. Lincolnís January 30, 1861, itinerary from Springfield to Coles County was as follows: 9:50 A.M., Lincoln left Springfield on the Great Western Railroad; 2:50 P.M., he arrives in Tolono, in Champaign County, to switch trains; 3:50 P.M., Lincoln departs Tolono for Mattoon on the Illinois Central line; 5:15 P.M., the train carrying the President-elect arrives in Mattoon; 5:40 P.M., Lincoln rides in the caboose of an east-bound freight train to Charleston; 6:15 P.M., Abraham Lincoln finally arrives in Charleston.
An early Mattoon hotel, the Essex House originally stood about 200 feet north of the current depot on the west side of
In 1855, the construction of the Illinois Central and Alton and the Terre Haute Railroads reached what would be the site of Mattoon, Illinois, ushering in the era of rail travel for Coles County. The town sprang up around the rail crossing with many businesses catering to the railroad. One such establishment was the Essex House, which functioned as a hotel and restaurant- -and as the depot and ticket office for the Illinois Central and the Terre Haute and Alton Railroads. Another prominent hotel, which also catered to rail traffic near the junction, was the Pennsylvania House. These two establishments would serve as local headquarters for Lincoln and Douglas when they arrived in Mattoon on September 17, 1858, in preparation for the next dayís debate in Charleston. Stephen A. Douglas arrived on a private train, which also carried a small cannon used to signal his arrival, while Abraham Lincoln
The candidates entertained their political friends and supporters at their headquarters while they planned the following dayís parades into Charleston, where the fourth of their historic seven debates was to be held. Lincoln would spend the night at the Pennsylvania House, while Stephen A. Douglas and his wife traveled by carriage north of town to stay with friends. A boy standing outside the Pennsylvania House at that time was Jasper Miller, who, in 1930, recalled his encounter with Lincoln, saying that there were ten or twelve lads lined up on the porch to see Abraham Lincoln, and that he shook each boyís hand. To miller, who was barefooted, Lincoln said, “Young man, I wish I could go barefooted.”
Erected 2008 by City of Mattoon.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Looking for Lincoln marker series.
Location. 39° 28.95′ N, 88° 22.519′ W. Marker is in Mattoon, Illinois, in Coles County. Marker is at the intersection of Broadway Avenue and South 17th Street, on the left when traveling Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Mattoon IL 61938, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. General U. S Grant took Command (within shouting distance of this marker); Site of The Village of Richmond (approx. 3 miles away); Abraham Lincoln - Eighth Judicial District (approx. 5.1 miles away); Gene Goodwin Park (approx. 6.6 miles away); Cole Edward Spencer (approx. 6.6 miles away); Moore House (approx. 10.6 miles away); The Reuben Moore Home (approx. 10.6 miles away); Rally After the Debate / Lincoln in Coles County (approx. 10.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mattoon.
Also see . . .
1. Travel with Lincoln ::. Climb into Lincolnís buggy and take a trip with Lincoln and his fellow lawyers on the job traveling Illinois as Circuit Lawyers. See all the Lincoln Circuit Markers (and a surprise or two), in the order of his travels while a member of the Circuit of the Eighth Judicial District (of Illinois) during 1847-1857. Use the “First >>” button in the upper right to see these markers in sequence, starting from Springfield. (Submitted on May 18, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
2. Looking for Lincoln Video - on P. B. S. (Submitted on May 18, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
3. Looking for Lincoln::. Many resources for the Tracking of Lincoln through History and Illinois. Aimed at all ages. (Submitted on May 18, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
Categories. • Notable Events • Politics •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 18, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. This page has been viewed 1,254 times since then and 37 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. submitted on May 18, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.