Lincoln's Confidante

Lincoln's Confidante (HM13VE)

Location: Quincy, IL 62301 Adams County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 55.986', W 91° 24.206'

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Quincy's Eliza Caldwell Browning and Abraham Lincoln first met in 1836. She was a new bride, and he had just received his law license. When Eliza discovered Lincoln's "great merits," the two established an easy rapport. Their nearly thirty-year friendship began when Eliza's husband Orville H. Browning, was elected to the Illinois Senate. Lincoln was a state representative. The friendship lasted until Lincoln's death in 1865. It was Lincoln's longest ongoing female relationship. In the early years, Lincoln became "very much attached" to Eliza, and she remained a part of his private and political world. Eliza, a genteel woman, and Lincoln, a self-educated man, shared intellectual interests, a love of storytelling, emotional trials, and political ideals. Over the years the Brownings, unlike any other friends, visited informally in the Lincoln home. When Lincoln's son, Willie, died in the White House in 1862, Senator Browning and Eliza stayed with Willie's body all night and "received" for the Lincolns in the Green room before the funeral. The Lincolns would "not consent" to Eliza leaving after the service. She spent a week caring for Tad and Lincoln's grieving wife Mary.

Eliza Browning welcomed Lincoln to the Browning Mansion after a parade-rally the morning of the Lincoln-Douglas Debate. Known for her great hospitality, Eliza hosted Lincoln during his stay in Quincy. She served lunch for a few guests before the debate, and afterward friends escorted Lincoln to the Square. In the evening he stood between the imposing front columns of the Browning home, shaking hands with throngs of supporters. Lincoln spent the night at the Browning home before leaving for Alton the next day.

In 1838 Lincoln wrote a long, saucy letter to Eliza about an unsuccessful matchmaking agreement. At one point stating, "privately between you and me," this highly personal letter suggests a clear level of ease between Eliza and Lincoln. In witty fashion Lincoln described the events and ultimate refusal of his marriage proposal to a woman before his relationship with Mary Todd. Eliza believed for more than twenty years that the amusing letter was one of Lincoln's storytelling inventions. At the White House in 1862 Eliza asked Lincoln about it, learning there was "more truth in that letter" than she had assumed. Lincoln asked her to keep it in confidence. The Mary Owens letter was not published until 1872. Viewed as a letter written in confidence, Eliza kept it private for thirty-four years.

HM NumberHM13VE
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, October 11th, 2014 at 9:27am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15S E 636418 N 4421552
Decimal Degrees39.93310000, -91.40343333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 55.986', W 91° 24.206'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 55' 59.16" N, 91° 24' 12.36" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 111-199 N 8th St, Quincy IL 62301, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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