Charleston in Coles County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Rally After the Debate / Lincoln in Coles County
—Looking for Lincoln —
Nineteenth-century Illinois political campaigns and rallies were raucous affairs, part entertainment and part serious politics. The candidates were often accompanied or preceded by marchers, fireworks, flag bearers, musicians, and- - -in the case of Stephen A. Douglas- - -volleys of cannon fire. This photo shows a procession of oxen in a political rally in 1860 and in the only known photo of Charleston square of this time period. The drum (below) is a surviving physical artifact from the Lincoln parade that preceded the famous Lincoln-Douglas Debate of September 18, 1858, perhaps the most historically significant day in the history of the city of Charleston.
After the Debate between Lincoln and Douglas on September 18, 1858, both the Democrats and Republicans held separate political rallies in Charleston. The Democrats, their number of participants being smaller, were assigned to hold their rally inside of the Courthouse, while the Republicans, a group four times as large, held their rally on the southwest corner of the courthouse lawn. One of the speakers at the Republican rally was Richard J. Oglesby, who went on to become governor of Illinois in 1865. Usher Linder, who was once a member of the Whig Party, and a long-time acquaintance of Lincoln’s had joined
“Gone for Soldiers, Everyone.” On April 15, 1861, five days after Lincoln had called for 75,000 volunteers to fight for the Union, there was a “War Meeting,” recruiting local soldiers to enlist on the Union side. A news article carried in the Charleston “Courier” described the day as a “glorious time.” “The enthusiasm of the people was unbounded. No difficulty was experienced forming a company. During the day, a large pole was erected and the flag of our country unfurled to the breeze. Such cheering and enthusiasm at this point of the proceedings surpasses far the most graphic description. Such outbursts of patriotic zeal is wholly indescribable [sic].” On this day, 175 “noble youths” had declared themselves ready and eager to go to war for the Union. By
This view of the Coles County Courthouse, which was photographed about 1858, shows the original 1835 structure on the left side of the photo, with a new addition in the center. Lawyer Abraham Lincoln practiced law in this particular Coles County Courthouse between the years 1841 and 1855. In the lower right-hand corner of the image, the Judge’s Office can be seen.
While Charleston was on the Fourth Judicial Circuit, it lay on the road midway between Shelbyville, in Shelby County, and Paris, in Edgar County. Both towns were part of the Eighth Judicial Circuit in which Lincoln practiced. Lincoln used this layover to take on additional legal work, which allowed him both the opportunity to visit relatives, such as his mother’s cousin Dennis Hanks, of Charleston, and his father and stepmother, Thomas and Sarah Bush Lincoln, who lived south of town. Stopping in the town of Charleston also allowed Lincoln to expand and strengthen his local political connections. Between the years 1841 and 1855, Abraham Lincoln the lawyer was often seen in Charleston when court was in session. In the evenings, Lincoln, his local acquaintances, and political contemporaries such as Orlando B. Ficklin and Usher Linder, could often
One of the controversial cases Lincoln pleaded while visiting Charleston was the Matson Slave Trial. Robert Matson, a slave owner, hired Usher Linder and Lincoln, who brought suit against abolitionist Gideon Ashmore and Hiram Rutherford for harboring Matson’s runaway slaves, Jane Bryant and her four children. Rutherford later wrote that he had actually wanted Lincoln to represent him because he felt that Lincoln shared some of his abolitionist principles.
Judges Samuel Treat and William Wilson did, in fact, rule in favor of Ashmore and Rutherford, declaring the Bryants to be permanently settled in Illinois- -and not just in transit as Matson claimed. Abraham Lincoln’s reputation as the “Great Emancipator” seems contradictory to his representing the rights of a slave owner, but Lincoln believed in upholding the law, even when it favored the rights of slave owners like Matson.
Erected 2008 by City of Charleston.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Looking for Lincoln marker series.
Location. 39° 29.679′ N, 88° 10.54′ W. Marker is in Charleston, Illinois, in Coles County. Marker is at the intersection of Jackson Avenue and 6th Street, on the left when traveling east on Jackson Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is across the street from the South/West corner of Coles County Courthouse in Charleston, Illinois. Marker is in this post office area: Charleston IL 61920, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Abraham Lincoln - Eighth Judicial District (within shouting distance of this marker); Coles County - - Civil War Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Coles County War Memorial (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Moore House (approx. 7.1 miles away); The Reuben Moore Home (approx. 7.1 miles away); Lincoln's Care for His Family (approx. 8.1 miles away); The Last Lincoln Farm (approx. 8.1 miles away); Lincoln's Last Visit / The Debaters in Mattoon (approx. 10.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Charleston.
Also see . . .
1. Lincoln & Slavery ::. Courtesy: "Prairie Fire" WILL-T.V.:: This video gives a well balanced view of Lincoln and his position concerning Slavery. (Submitted on May 19, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
2. Travel with Lincoln ::. Climb into Lincoln’s 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 19, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
3. Looking for Lincoln Video - on P. B. S. Follow Henry Louis Gates, Jr. "...from Illinois, to Gettysburg, to Washington, D. C., and face to face with people who live with Lincoln every day..." (Submitted on May 19, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
4. Looking for Lincoln::. Many resources for the Tracking of Lincoln through History and Illinois. Aimed at all ages. (Submitted on May 19, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
5. Learn more about the Matson Slave Trial at Annual Program. Each year on the third weekend in September, the community of Oakland, IL presents a program called Trial & Tribulations: The Story of the 1847 Matson Slave Trial. It is a combination of living history, theatrical drama, and an 1847 meal. Ticket holders meet seven of the characters involved in the (Submitted on July 9, 2010.)
Categories. • Notable Events • Notable Persons • Notable Places • Politics •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 19, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. This page has been viewed 1,017 times since then and 25 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. submitted on May 19, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.