Abraham Lincoln is reported to have practiced his Freeport Debate speech in Atlanta, during a stop to visit Richard Gill, the town’s founder. As told by Atlanta physician, Dr. George Angell, he and Gill overheard Lincoln in a room above Angell’s office, vigorously practicing for his upcoming debate with Stephen Douglas. The event was one of the last times Lincoln visited Atlanta alive. You can visit an interpretive exhibit in the Atlanta Library.
Address: 102 SW Vine Street, building is no longer there
Atlantans considered Abraham Lincoln a friend and welcomed him to their community many times during his career as a lawyer and presidential candidate. Discover more about Lincoln’s connection to our community via the “Atlanta and Abraham Lincoln Collection” in the Atlanta Museum.
Website: Atlanta Public Library and Museum
Hours: Seasonal (April-September)
Address: 114 SE Arch Street
Phone number: (217) 648-2112
Grand Old-Fashioned BBQ
Did you hear about the 1875 BBQ held here? The event took place on the Atlanta Fairgrounds south of town, where African-Americans from Atlanta and the surrounding area hosted a huge BBQ to celebrate the 12th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The BBQ saw an extraordinary turnout of over 600 African-Americans, as well as many local white residents who came to view the proceedings. Want to learn more? Check out the exhibit in the Atlanta Museum.
Wide Awake Movement
Atlanta’s “Wide Awake Movement”, one of the first established in the nation, included young men who united in support of Abraham Lincoln’s presidential campaign. The Wide-Awakes were known for their spirited, torchlight parades during which they carried banners such as the one shown on the “Wide Awake” marker found in front of Xenia Park. The original banner was sown by an Atlanta dentist and is now displayed in the Lincoln Heritage Museum in Lincoln, IL. A photocopy is in the Atlanta Museum.
As dawn broke on May 3, 1865, President Lincoln’s funeral train slowed through Atlanta on its way to Springfield, Illinois. Community members gathered near the tracks draped in black cloth, as they said their goodbyes to their friend and President. Louisa Hawes, a child at the time, wrote a letter to family in the South describing the memorial arches erected over the train tracks, students dressed in mourning, and the train’s slow procession through town. Her letter is on display at the Lincoln Heritage Museum in Lincoln.