Whig Rivals and Friends

Whig Rivals and Friends (HM1333)

Location: Jacksonville, IL 62650 Morgan County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 44.058', W 90° 13.255'

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A native of Kentucky, John J. Hardin moved to Jacksonville in 1831 when he was twenty-one. Like other young men of their generation. Hardin and Abraham Lincoln served in the Black Hawk War. Both men were lawyers and Whig politicians who became rivals for leadership of the party. They were fellow members of the Illinois House of Representatives for six years. Hardin may have saved Abraham Lincoln;s life in 1842. Lincoln had published a letter making fun of General James Shields, a Democrat and Illinois State Auditor. The General demanded satisfaction, and Lincoln proposed using broadswords. When Hardin learned about the impending duel, he rushed to an island near Alton before the duel could begin and persuaded the men to compromise instead. The following year, in a letter to Hardin, Lincoln joked, "I wish you would measure one of the largest of those swords we took to Alton, and write me the length of it."

John J. Hardin was killed on February 23, 1847, at the battle of Buena Vista in the Mexican War. His funeral in Jacksonville attracted 15,000 mourners, one of the largest gatherings in Illinois before the Civil War. Speaking at the loss of Hardin, Lincoln stated, we sent Marshall, Morrison, Baker and Hardin; they all fought but one fell; and in the fall of that one, we lost the best Whig man."

John J. Hardin and Mary Todd Lincoln were cousins and friends. Abraham Lincoln became engaged to Mary Todd in 1840, but they decided to call off their engagement on New Year's Day 1841. Abraham and Mary both accepted invitations to a wedding in Jacksonville in late September 1842, without knowing that the other one would be present. John and Sarah Hardin used this wedding as an occasion to become matchmakers. After the ceremony, they gave Mary and Abraham separate invitations to their house on East State Street. Both Abraham and Mary came to the Hardin home without realizing that they would see each other. They talked with one another, reconciled their differences and on November 4, 1842, Abraham and Mary wed.

HM NumberHM1333
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 at 4:03am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15S E 738155 N 4401961
Decimal Degrees39.73430000, -90.22091667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 44.058', W 90° 13.255'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 44' 3.48" N, 90° 13' 15.30" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 501 E State St, Jacksonville IL 62650, US
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