Lincoln's Legacy

Lincoln's Legacy (HM12K6)

Location: Decatur, IL 62523 Macon County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 50.529', W 88° 57.198'

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During his presidency, Abraham Lincoln had promised to care for the men in the armed services-and for their widows and orphans. Lincoln was unable, however, to keep that promise. In response, the Grand Army of the Republic or G.A.R. emerged as the most powerful of the post-Civil War organizations. it was the idea of Dr. Benjamin E. Stephenson, a former surgeon in the Fourteenth Illinois Infantry. Dr. Stephenson had been motivated by President Lincoln's promise. In the beginning, the G.A.R. was an organization of Union veterans with three objectives; fraternity, charity and loyalty. Membership in the G.A.R. was limited to honorably discharged Union veterans who served during the years 1861-1865. The organization soon became one of the most powerful political organizations in the United States. By the year 1890, there were over 400,000 members, and political candidates for national office sought the prestigious endorsements of the G.A.R. In addition, the G.A.R. became well known for supporting the idea of Memorial Day, and establishing veterans' homes throughout the nation.

This image shows the original charter for the Grand Army of the Republic. The name for the G.A.R. was inspired by Napoleon's Grand Army of France. Five members of the G.A.R. were elected to the Presidency of the United States; Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison and William McKinley. Since the G.A.R. was based on Civil War service, it was formally dissolved when its last living member, Albert Woolson, died in 1956 at age 109.

While the G.A.R. is best remembered as a national organization, the very first chapter was organized in Decatur, which was chosen as the location partially because there was a printing shop owned and run by two union veterans, I. N. Coltrin and Joseph Prior. These two men had been approached by Dr. Stephenson's Fields, Robert Mann Woods and John S. Phelps to print up the first by-laws and rituals for the new organization. Veterans showed so much enthusiasm toward Dr. Stephenson's idea that, on April 6, 1866, in a small room on the second floor of a building located at 253 South Park Street, the twelve original members chartered Decatur as "Post No. 1, Grand Army of the Republic."

HM NumberHM12K6
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 5th, 2014 at 10:43am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 332877 N 4412063
Decimal Degrees39.84215000, -88.95330000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 50.529', W 88° 57.198'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 50' 31.74" N, 88° 57' 11.88" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 259 S Park St, Decatur IL 62523, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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