Lincoln's Carthage Speech

Lincoln's Carthage Speech (HM1397)

Location: Carthage, IL 62321 Hancock County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 24.768', W 91° 8.1'

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Abraham Lincoln defended himself against political attacks during much of the speech he delivered here on the courthouse grounds on October 22, 1858. Stephen A. Douglas, who had spoken here eleven days earlier, had accused Lincoln of being too cozy with big railroad companies and of helping them to avoid paying taxes—-a charge Douglas had never made to Lincoln's face in their joint debates. Lincoln explained his fee arrangement for railroad legal services and proclaimed that railroads "shall not be released from their obligations to pay money into the State Treasury." Despite the necessity of responding to attacks, Lincoln seemed to be "in admirable spirits and voice and gave us the best speech ever made in Hancock County," reported Republican newspapers. Apparently, there were many more women at Lincoln's speech than at Douglas'. The local Democratic newspaper excused this embarrassment by blaming a heavy rain the night before Douglas spoke that had turned Carthage into a sea of mud, and boasting that more "real" voters (men) had attended Douglas's speech.

None of the famous Lincoln-Douglas Debates were held in Hancock County. But Lincoln gave more formal speeches here during the 1858 campaign (four) than in any other county—-causing Douglas to speak here more times (three) than in all but one county (Madison). Lincoln spoke here one week after the seventh and final Lincoln-Douglas Debate (held in Alton on October 15). it was a late strategic decision by Lincoln to spend two days contesting Hancock County as the senate race neared its frantic close.

Over five thousand people heard Lincoln speak. "Each delegation had its flags and appropriate designs...two or three hundred of these flags, great and small, floating in the breeze." Joseph Smith III wrote, "I went to hear Judge Douglas greatly prejudiced in his favor because of his straightforward, honorable action in his treatment of my father...The next week on Friday I drove out to hear Mr. Lincoln...For the first five or ten minutes I...thought if that was the best the party could do, it was in an awful bad condition. However, by the time Mr. Lincoln was fully engaged in his subject, I forgot that he was homely, lank, angular, long armed, long legged and long necked and was much pleased with his style and manner of speaking."

HM NumberHM1397
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 at 5:02pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15T E 658237 N 4475245
Decimal Degrees40.41280000, -91.13500000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 24.768', W 91° 8.1'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 24' 46.08" N, 91° 8' 6.00" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 50-98 S Adams St, Carthage IL 62321, US
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