While February is known for Ground Hogs Day and the hearts and flowers of Valentine’s Day, in central Illinois, there is another big day, Lincoln's Birthday. Every February 12th, Abraham Lincoln is the topic of the day. In the Land of Lincoln, it is easy to celebrate by visiting the Lincoln sites. It seems fitting to think of this famous Lincoln quote that often appears in print whether reflecting on Lincoln’s life or your own birth date, “In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.”
Lincoln’s own life was cut short by his assassination by John Wilkes Booth, but during his almost six decades he changed the landscape of America.
Come to Springfield, Illinois and begin your Lincoln journey at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library where their mission is “…the educational and cultural programming of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum; fosters Lincoln scholarship through the acquisition and publication of documentary materials relating to Lincoln and his era; and promotes a greater appreciation of history through exhibits, conferences, publications, online services, and other activities designed to promote historical literacy.”
Next include a visit to Lincoln’s home the only house that Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln ever owned. A tour is a great way to see how the Lincoln’s lived before Lincoln became president. The home and visitors center receives hundreds of thousands of people that flock to Springfield to learn more about this former attorney turned president. Located at Eighth and Jackson Streets the home is a National Historic Site that will familiarize you with just who Lincoln was.
You can also see where Lincoln worked a lawyer in Springfield. The Lincoln Herndon Law office is open for tour on the south side of the square facing the Old State Capitol. It was here that Lincoln worked in the building built by Seth M. Tinsley from 1840-1841. Stories abound when touring the law office Lincoln’s tendency to let his sons rule the roost and after the tour besides appreciating Lincoln’s legal acumen, it is easy to glimpse him in the role of a father.
Stop by the Old State Capital to see where Lincoln worked his legal magic. The Old State Capitol is a reconstruction of Illinois’ fifth statehouse from 1829 to 1876 and the first to be located in Springfield. The website offers insight into Lincoln’s year’s in Illinois government. “During the dramatic years leading to the Civil War, the building had an important role in the political struggle between Stephen A. Douglas (1813-1861) and Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865). Lincoln visited the building frequently as both a lawyer and a politician, serving in the building during his last term in the Illinois House of Representatives and delivering the famous 1858 “House Divided” speech in Representatives Hall, and using the governor’s rooms as a headquarters during the 1860 presidential campaign. The building was the scene of the assassinated President’s final laying-in-state on May 3-4, 1865.
For a picture of Lincoln as a young man visit Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site. Located about 2 miles South of Petersburg and about 20 miles Northwest of Springfield, New Salem is a reconstruction of the village where Abraham Lincoln spent his early adulthood. You can see the Lincoln Berry store and learn about Abe’s rail splitting days. These are only the tip of the iceberg of the places where you can go to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday in style!
Contact the Springfield Visitor’s Association to find out where to stay and what else there is to do in Illinois’s capitol city.