— Looking for Lincoln —
Danville was a destination for Abraham Lincoln for nearly twenty years. He first came to the village of a few hundred residents when he was a thirty-two-year-old attorney in 1841.Elizabeth Harmon described the early appearance of the young limb of the law. "In those days his cloths were of the shabbiest, and were most carelessly worn. They wee not only threadbare, but he was actually out at the elbows much of the time."Supposedly, he once spent time regarding an ant working its way out of a horse's hoof print in the mud in front of the McCormack house, where he was staying on Main Street. Lincoln remarked that the ant made better use of its small brain than he did of his own top piece.By the 1850's Lincoln's face was familiar to many citizens as he strolled the streets of Danville when court was in session. He began to dress as well as other members of the bar. His legal practice had also grown, and he was becoming well-known in the world of politics.
The McCormack House Hotel was located on the northwest corner of Main and Walnut streets. For many years it offered lodging to weary travelers and local businessmen. It was on McCormack House stationery that Lincoln, in 1859, wrote his acceptance letter to James A. Briggs. This speech, at Cooper union, would launch Lincoln on his way to the Presidency.
"I believe, after all, I shall make a political speech of it. You have no objections?" Lincoln wrote to James A. Biggs while staying at Danville's McCormack House on November 13, 1859. The speech made at Cooper Union in New York, helped his gain the Presidential nomination of the Republican Party.Lincoln and Ward Hill Lamon formed a law partnership in 1852, opening an office in the Barnum Building on the public square. It became a popular gathering place for the men of Danville, who were drawn to Lincoln's young, fun-loving, boisterous partner. The partnership ended when Lamon was elected State's Attorney in 1856. In 1861 Lincoln took Lamon to Washington making him Marshall of the District of Columbia. Judge Davis observed Lincoln "trusted Lamon more than any other man."