Hamilton House

Hamilton House (HM138W)

Location: Carthage, IL 62321 Hancock County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 24.834', W 91° 7.974'

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Abraham Lincoln probably stayed at the Hamilton House when he came to Carthage in 1839 to serve as the defendant's counsel in the Fraim murder trial. There are no other known Lincoln court cases in Hancock County. But he did handle several local cases on appeal in the Illinois State Supreme Court—-including an 1845 case where the owner of the Hamilton House, Artois Hamilton, sued a debtor for payment. In Moore v. Hamilton, Lincoln persuaded the Supreme Court to throw out a Hancock County jury's verdict favoring Hamilton (though Hamilton ended up winning when the case was retried here in Carthage in 1846 with different lawyers). Lincoln apparently didn't visit Carthage again until the 1858 Senate race against Stephen A. Douglas. Artois Hamilton most likely didn't vote for Lincoln in 1858—-not because he was sore about an old court case, but because he was a Democrat and his son, William R. Hamilton, ran for Hancock County sheriff that year on the Democratic ticket headed by Douglas. Both Douglas and young Hamilton won.

Artois Hamilton established Carthage's first inn, the Hamilton House, at this location in 1835. He ran it until 1851 when his wife, two children, and two sisters died in a local cholera epidemic. Many Lincoln-era dignitaries stayed here, including young John Hay from nearby Warsaw, who later became a confidential secretary to President Lincoln during the Civil War and was Secretary of War under Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Hay also wrote a famous account of the assassination of Joseph Smith for Atlantic Monthly.

"Those are the boys that will settle you Mormons," Artois Hamilton warned a Mormon acquaintance while pointing at the Carthage Grays—-who were prominent among the local militia units that excitedly pressed for a glimpse of Joseph Smith when he arrived here with his party just before midnight on June 24, 1844. Governor Thomas Ford was already quartered here—-as were many of the prophet's apostate Mormon enemies. The Mormon company spent the night in the Hamilton House and most of the next day until they were confined in the Carthage Jail on the evening of June 25th. Two days later, Hamilton brought the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum Smith back to the Hamilton House after they were murdered at the jail. He prepared pine board boxes for the corpses and helped transport them in wagons to Nauvoo the next morning.

HM NumberHM138W
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, October 13th, 2014 at 8:11pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15T E 658413 N 4475371
Decimal Degrees40.41390000, -91.13290000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 24.834', W 91° 7.974'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 24' 50.04" N, 91° 7' 58.44" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 33 N Washington St, Carthage IL 62321, US
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