Abraham Lincoln’s Legacy in Springfield, Illinois
By Jody Sidle
Springfield, Illinois, is a fantastic combination of history and culture, perfect for history buffs and families. The capital of Illinois, it’s best known for being home to Abraham Lincoln for 17 years leading up to his election as the 16th president of the United States.
Abraham Lincoln Attractions
Everywhere you look in Springfield, you’ll find tributes to Abraham Lincoln. In fact, if you want to visit all of the major Lincoln historical sites, you’ll need several full days!
First, I visited the only home he ever owned, where I took a short tour. The free tours are led by knowledgeable park rangers. The Lincoln Home Visitor Center includes a model of Springfield as it looked in 1860.
Next stop: the law offices where Lincoln worked with his colleague, charging just $5 for some cases. The offices are located on the corner of a quaint street opposite the Old State Capital Building, where today some local residents hold re-enactments of Civil War scenes.
Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
One of the most popular attractions, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum was next. It was my favorite stop of all. This presidential library houses the world’s largest collection of Lincoln-related documents. The exhibits were very well done, and the artefacts were very well preserved. I got to “watch” the 1860 presidential election as though it were happening today. Up in the “attic,” there were even spaces for children to play with clothing and toys of the era. Eerily realistic holographic presentations and other interactive exhibits kept me engaged for several hours.
After leaving the library, I headed over to the Lincoln Depot, where Lincoln offered his farewell speech before boarding the train to Washington, D.C., to be inaugurated. It was moving to imagine the newly elected president leaving his beloved city to preside over a country on the brink of civil war.
The Popular Lincoln Tomb
Next I went to the Lincoln Tomb, which is simply beautiful. Situated in Oak Park Cemetery, Lincoln’s tomb is the second most-visited grave in the country, right behind Arlington National Cemetery. Lincoln, his wife and three of their children are buried here. The tomb is gorgeous, with strong symbolism in its design. Outside, there’s a gold bust of Lincoln. Many visitors rub his nose – it’s supposed to be lucky. You might want to try an audio tour to learn about other notable people buried here.
To finish off my history tour of Springfield, I went to the Lincoln Museum and the State Capitol. This is where Lincoln spoke his famous words: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Not only are both places beautiful, but they’re incredibly interesting and fun for people of all ages.
For anyone fascinated by Abraham Lincoln, a visit to Springfield is a must. And even if you weren’t previously interested in presidential history, the exhibits, historical sites and museums dedicated to the 16th president of the United States are so engaging that you’ll certainly be a fan soon enough!