The Pike House

The Pike House (HM1310)

Location: Bloomington, IL 61701 McLean County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 28.867', W 88° 59.667'

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"While I am writing speakers are addressing the people from the portico of the Pike House." Thus wrote the correspondent of the Chicago Democrat Press on the morning of May 29, 1856. The Anti-Nebraska Convention was scheduled to meet later that day. These speakers were denouncing the Nebraska Act passed under the leadership of Stephen A. Douglas, Illinois's "Little Giant." The writer noted that Douglas' chief nemesis, Abraham Lincoln, had spoken from the same portico the previous evening, May 28. Lincoln's speech was brief because, as the Springfield Illinois State Register noted, "he would make a most excellent one" the following day at the convention. Referring to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise line, the Register wrote Lincoln "told his owl story about the fence (meaning the Missouri restriction) being torn down and the cattle eating up the crops, then talked about the outrages in Kansas, said a man couldn't think, dream or breathe of a free state there, but what he was kicked, cuffed, shot down and hung..." Elihu Washburne, John Palmer, Leonard Swett, and Owen Lovejoy also spoke at the Pike House.

Abraham Lincoln was a frequent guest at the Pike House, a four story wooden structure "considered palatial in its day." Located on the corner of North and Center streets, it opened to great fanfare on June 30, 1854. On June 29, 1855, Lincoln checked into the hotel, briefly named the Matteson House (it having been sold to Massewin Matteson and Herman Hickok who defaulted). Lincoln spent the night there before continuing to Chicago for cases pending before the U.S. Court, Northern District of Illinois. One year later, Meshach Pike retained Lincoln in a suit before the McLean County Circuit Court for damages. Although Pike lost, he regained ownership of the hotel.

Although great political rivals, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas were also friends. On at least one occasion they dined together at the Pike House, in 1857 or 1858. Douglas had many supporters in Bloomington including Mary Gridley, wife of Asahel Gridley who backed Lincoln. As Bloomington attorney Lawrence Weldon told the story, Douglas had brought his recent bride, Adele Cutts Douglas from Washington D.C. to Illinois "where he took great delight in introducing his wife to his numerous friends." Douglas was beginning his campaign for re-election to the Senate in 1858. Senator and Mrs. Douglas had recently returned from a tour of Europe and as Mrs. Douglas described it to Lincoln, she also inquired about his travels. Lincoln replied: "Madam, not to be abrupt, but to cut the matter short, the truth is I have never been anywhere."

HM NumberHM1310
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, October 2nd, 2014 at 5:52pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16T E 330949 N 4483069
Decimal Degrees40.48111667, -88.99445000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 28.867', W 88° 59.667'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 28' 52.02" N, 88° 59' 40.02" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)309
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 108 W Monroe St, Bloomington IL 61701, US
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