Lincoln in Hancock County

Lincoln in Hancock County (HM1390)

Location: Carthage, IL 62321 Hancock County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 24.891', W 91° 8.359'

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Hancock County was off the beaten track for Abraham Lincoln. County residents were more familiar with his senatorial opponent, Stephen A. Douglas. In October 1858, Lincoln addressed an enthusiastic audience on the Carthage square. Afterward, he walked a few blocks to his local lodgings with boyhood friend Alexander Sympson. He then obliged those who followed him with spirited oratory from the doorway. The Wide Awakes, a political club, strongly supported Lincoln and engaged in ceremonial marches in honor of their chosen candidate. impressive maneuvers like the "worm fence march" can only be imagined, but their "split rail" routine was an obvious not to Lincoln's early days. Many able-bodied young men wanted to be counted among the popular Wide Awakes, whose Fountain Green contingency won first prize for having the largest best-disciplined marching unit in October 1860. Although he was from Springfield over a hundred miles away, Lincoln was optimistic during the 1858 senatorial election. He campaigned vigorously in Hancock County, where he had relatives and close friends. Although Lincoln won many popular votes, the final victory went to Stephen Douglas.

Among Lincoln's strongest supporters in Hancock County, the Wide Awakes were showy but functional. Local political sentiments, however, were strongly Democratic in this part of the state. The Wide Awakes served as official escort for prominent Republican speakers like Abraham Lincoln, and as a security force keeping order in the often unruly political climate of the era.

Rare Lincoln-related artifacts exhibited in the Kibbe Hancock heritage Museum include a Wide Awakes ceremonial torch and oilcloth uniform in red, white and blue, plus the famous Sympson Doorway where Lincoln spoke while staying at his friend;s residence in Carthage. This Lincoln ambrotype may have been taken in Carthage by traveling photographer Charley Frost in October 1858, showing Lincoln as he looked at the time of his speech in Hancock County.

This unusual eighteen-star flag aligned Illinois with anti-slavery states. it was sewn by local Carthage ladies and hung over a hotel balcony to show support for Lincoln when he addressed supporters on the Carthage courthouse square in 1858. Along with many other local antiquities, these artifacts document the importance of political pageantry in the lives of nineteenth-century Americans and attest to the fact that Lincoln had many loyal supporters in Hancock County.

HM NumberHM1390
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, September 11th, 2014 at 11:37am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15T E 657866 N 4475465
Decimal Degrees40.41485000, -91.13931667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 24.891', W 91° 8.359'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 24' 53.46" N, 91° 8' 21.54" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 306-398 Walnut St, Carthage IL 62321, US
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