Lincoln's Carthage Speech
Abraham Lincoln defended himself against political attacks during much of the speech he delivered here on the courthouse grounds on October 22, 1858. Stephen A. Douglas, who had spoken here eleven days earlier, had accused Lincoln of being too cozy with big railroad companies and of helping them to avoid paying taxes---a charge Douglas had never made to Lincoln's face in their joint debates. Lincoln explained his fee arrangement for railroad legal services and proclaimed that railroads "shall not be released from their obligations to pay money into the State Treasury." Despite the necessity of responding to attacks, Lincoln seemed to be "in admirable spirits and voice and gave us the best speech ever made in Hancock County," reported Republican newspapers. Apparently, there were many more women at Lincoln's speech than at Douglas'. The local Democratic newspaper excused this embarrassment by blaming a heavy rain the night before Douglas spoke that had turned Carthage into a sea of mud, and boasting that more "real" voters (men) had attended Douglas's speech.
None of the famous Lincoln-Douglas Debates were held in Hancock County. But Lincoln gave more formal speeches here during the 1858 campaign (four) than in any other county---causing Douglas to speak here more times (three) than
Over five thousand people heard Lincoln speak. "Each delegation had its flags and appropriate designs...two or three hundred of these flags, great and small, floating in the breeze." Joseph Smith III wrote, "I went to hear Judge Douglas greatly prejudiced in his favor because of his straightforward, honorable action in his treatment of my father...The next week on Friday I drove out to hear Mr. Lincoln...For the first five or ten minutes I...thought if that was the best the party could do, it was in an awful bad condition. However, by the time Mr. Lincoln was fully engaged in his subject, I forgot that he was homely, lank, angular, long armed, long legged and long necked and was much pleased with his style and manner of speaking."
Marker series. This marker is included in the Looking for Lincoln marker series.
Location. 40° 24.768′ N, 91° 8.1′ W. Marker is in Carthage, Illinois, in Hancock County. Marker is on Wabash Ave. just west of South Adams Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Carthage IL 62321, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 7 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Masonic Lodge Building of 1887 (within shouting distance of this marker); Lincoln's Failed Murder Case (within shouting distance of this marker); Lincoln and Agriculture (within shouting distance of this marker); Hamilton House (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Lincoln in Hancock County (approx. ¼ mile away); Historic Carthage Jail (approx. ¼ mile away); The "Old Jail" (approx. 0.3 miles away).
Categories. • Politics •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 26, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 290 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 26, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.