|Illinois Civil War
Springfield and New Salem
Abraham Lincoln moved to Springfield in 1837 and began to make a name for himself practicing law. He bought a home here in 1844, two years after marrying Mary Todd. It was the only house he would ever own.
Lincoln was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from here in 1846 and served just one term. He ran for the U.S. Senate in 1858 but lost to Stephan Douglas after an attention-getting series of speeches and debates.
Following his election as president, Lincoln left Springfield for the last time Feb. 11, 1861. His body returned home May 3, 1865. He was buried the next day at Springfield’s Oak Ridge Cemetery.
Union Station Visitor Center
500 E Madison, Springfield IL 62701
Open daily 9 am–5 pm.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
112 N Sixth St, Springfield IL 62701
A spectacular museum featuring 40,000 square feet of state-of-the-art exhibits, films and other presentations honoring the memory of Lincoln and his family. The visitor is invited to take two “journeys.” The first one explores Lincoln’s pre-presidential years including a “TV News” format reporting on the 1860 election. The second covers the White House Years with innovative exhibits covering the Emancipation Proclamation, Gettysburg, and Lincoln’s assassination and funeral. The Union Theater offers visitors the surround-sound and special effects presentation “Lincoln’s Eyes.” Other galleries exhibit Lincoln family effects and a children’s hands-on room. The introduction to the Lincoln Presidential Library is a ghostly holographic experience that brings the artifacts and documents “to life.”
Museum open 9 am-5 pm. $12/adult.
Lincoln Home National Historic Site
426 S Seventh St, Springfield IL 62701
The Lincoln home has been restored to the time when the family lived there prior to moving to Washington in 1861. Some of the surrounding buildings also have been restored. Begin a timed tour of the home by picking up a free ticket at the visitor center. Also pick up information about the restored buildings nearby, including some with exhibits relating to the Lincoln family's time in Springfield.
Open 8:30 am–5 pm daily. Free.
Oak Ridge Cemetery
1500 Monument Ave, Springfield IL 62702
President Lincoln, his wife Mary and three of their sons (Edward, William and Thomas) are buried under this 117-foot granite tomb. Inside are bronze statues and excerpts from Lincoln’s speeches as well at Edwin Stanton’s famous “now he belongs to the ages” quote from the president’s death vigil in Washington.
Open daily 9–5 pm (May-Labor Day); Tuesday-Saturday 9 am–5 pm (Labor Day–October); and Tuesday-Saturday 9 am-4 pm (November–February) and 9 am–5 pm (March–April). Free.
Old State Capitol State Historic Site
1 Old State Capitol Plaza, Springfield IL 62701
Illinois’s fifth statehouse, the first to be located in Springfield, was the center of Illinois political life 1839-1876. Lincoln spent time here both as a lawyer and a politician. He delivered his famous “House Divided” speech in Representatives Hall. He ran his 1860 presidential campaign from here and his body lay in state here for the final time in 1865. The building was completely reconstructed in 1960 and brought back to its appearance during Lincoln’s time.
Orientation film and guided or self-guided tours are offered. Open 9 am–5 pm summer months. Call for hours other times. Free (donations welcome).
Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices
Sixth and Adams streets, Springfield IL 62701
Lincoln practiced law from this office for nearly a decade beginning in 1843 with partner William H. Herndon. Visitor center on the first floor with audio-visual presentations and exhibits begins the tour of the three-story building. The second floor is presented as a federal court and the law offices as they might have appeared to Lincoln and his clients are on the third. Call for current hours.
Other Springfield museums
Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Museum
629 S Seventh St, Springfield IL
Collection of Civil War artifacts and memorabilia donated by Union veterans. Open 10 am–4 pm Tuesday-Saturday. Closed December.
Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War Museum
503 S Walnut St, Springfield IL
More Civil War memorabilia donated by Union veterans. Open Monday–Friday 9 am–noon and 1–4 pm.
Lincoln moved here when he was 21 and began running for office shortly after. He lost his first election campaign for the state assembly but won the next one and continued to serve in that body for four terms. Many of the great legends of Lincoln’s young adulthood originated here.
Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site
15588 History Lane, Petersburg IL 62675
(About 20 miles northwest of Springfield on Route 97)
Log buildings, mills, workshops and a school have been recreated, as Lincoln might have known them in his early adulthood in New Salem during the 1830s. Lincoln first ran for public office here. A visitor center features a short film and a museum with original Lincoln items and other material.
Open daily 9 am–5 pm (April–October), 9 am–4 pm November–March. Call first. $4/adult suggested donation.
Website links to Illinois places: Illinois Links