Twenty-eight-year-old Abraham Lincoln settled here in 1837. He was unmarried, unlearned, unrefined, with "no wealthy or popular relations to recommend me." On the day before his fifty-second birthday, Lincoln left here a profoundly changed man; a husband and father, financially secure, his intellectual and moral abilities having grown to match his towering physical stature; his deeply held political convictions tempered by empathy and keen insight into the human condition.
On this public square and in surrounding buildings, Lincoln and his family and friends purchased goods, attended parties, enjoyed picnics and parades, watched theatricals, and listened to concerts and lectures. In law offices and courtrooms overlooking this square he honed his skills of persuasion. In storefront discussions and street corner gatherings he perfected the art of politics. Then, as his understanding matured and his convictions deepened, he took his place among the leaders of his time, addressing the people of the nation in powerful and eloquent words that echoed beyond this small prairie capital.
Springfield was the center of Lincoln's world for a quarter century. When he arrived here Springfield was, like himself, shaking off its rough, frontier beginnings. The legislature had recently named it the state capital---but there was no
As Lincoln grew in economic status and social position, so too did his city. When Lincoln left in February 1861 to assume the presidency, Springfield had almost 10,000 inhabitants and boasted of many impressive buildings and social institutions. Neither Lincoln nor his city was "frontier" anymore.
Left: Lincoln's first known photograph, cir. 1846, at about age 37---"no wealthy or popular relations to recommend me."
Right: Lincoln's last Springfield photograph, taken February 9, 1861, as President-elect, three days shy of his 62nd birthday---a man shaped by lessons in practical democracy and human nature learned "in this place" and among "these people."
Far right: Washington Street as Lincoln knew it, looking west to the railroad crossing at Third Street.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Looking for Lincoln marker series.
Location. 39° 48.03′ N, 89° 38.887′ W. Marker is in Springfield, Illinois,
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices (here, next to this marker); In Their Springfield Prime (a few steps from this marker); Streetscape 1859 (a few steps from this marker); The Lincoln Boys in 1854 (a few steps from this marker); Old State Capitol (within shouting distance of this marker); The Bath & Barber Shop (within shouting distance of this marker); C. M. & S. Smith Store (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Springfield.
Categories. • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 20, 2011, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 366 times since then and 46 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on October 20, 2011, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.