Find out when and where our 16th president visited
Although he was barely into his second term when he was assassinated – April 15 marks the 153rd anniversary of his death – Abraham Lincoln is considered not only one of our greatest presidents, but one of the most beloved Americans in history. And while many people probably know at least a little about him, there are surely things that aren’t very well known.
First of all, not a lot of people know where he is from. He wasn’t from Nebraska, as many think, though it – and actually dozens of other states – has a city named for him. Lincoln was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky. Though he grew up there and in Indiana, he made a name for himself in Illinois. He, of course, became a prominent lawyer, a state politician, and eventually made his way to the White House.
Lincoln and Grant
It’s impossible to discuss Lincoln without mentioning Ulysses S. Grant, and vice versa. While they worked together to try to bring the Civil War to a close, during this time they also became friends. In fact, Grant was supposed to accompany the Lincolns to Ford’s Theatre on that infamous night, but some acrimony between Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Grant prevented this from happening.
Anyone who has some familiarity with Grant knows that Galena, Illinois, played a significant role in his life. Before the war, he worked there in his father’s leather goods shop. Afterward, he returned the conquering hero, and the town gave him and his family a house, which is now one of Galena’s biggest attractions. Surprisingly, however, Grant wasn’t the only Civil War general who lived in Galena, as eight others one time or another called the townhome.
Lincoln and Galena
Through Grant, Lincoln had an indirect connection to Galena, but he also had a direct one. He first visited the town as a 23-year-old soldier during the Black Hawk War. Twenty-four years later, he returned to campaign for presidential candidate John Fremont. From the second-floor balcony of the then year-old Desoto House hotel, he spoke to a “large audience,” according to a local paper. The paper also said that several ladies made up this group of “attentive listeners.”
Not surprisingly, Lincoln’s speech focused on Republican efforts to preserve the Union. His concluding sentiment showed how fiercely he cared about his country: “All this talk about the dissolution of the Union is humbug – nothing but folly. We WON’T dissolve the Union.”
In addition to Grant, Lincoln developed both personal and professional relationships with other Galena residents, including Elihu B. Washburne. A Congressman in the 1850s and 60s, Washburne became a key political ally and advisor. He was also one of the biggest supporters of Grant and touted Grant’s military prowess to Lincoln. Edward Baker was another person who lived in Galena for a number of years who eventually worked in Washington and befriended Lincoln.
Experience history firsthand in Galena
Learning about history is fun, but it really starts to come alive when you visit the spots were it actually took place. Going to Galena is like jumping into a history textbook. A large portion of the town has remained virtually unchanged for centuries. In addition to Grant’s home, there are numerous other historical locations to see.
If you’d like to check out this special place for yourself, you can stay in one of our cabins. They are a little more luxurious than the one Lincoln was born in, but you’ll certainly enjoy their rustic and cozy nature. Make your reservation here.