Looking for Lincoln in Alton, Illinois

Looking for Lincoln in Alton, Illinois is a bit of a search.  There are two places to obtain the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area cancellation stamp:  the Alton Visitor Center and the Alton Genealogy Library.  The stamps are identical.  As the name indicates the Visitor Center is a visitor center.  They sell t-shirts and coffee mugs, have loads of brochures for local attractions, and offer information on the area.  The Genealogy Library is a beautiful building in downtown Alton where folks research their ancestry.  But I’m searching for Abe.

I found Lincoln at Lincoln-Douglas Square, the site of the 7th and final debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas on October 15, 1858.  Douglas was Lincoln’s arch-nemesis.  Douglas was the incumbent Democratic senator and he was running against Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln.  Their series of seven debates centered on the issue of slavery.  Douglas was the instigator of the Kansas- Nebraska Act of 1854 which repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820.  The Missouri Compromise was an act intended to retain a balance between free and slave states.  Basically, if a slave state (like Missouri) is admitted into the union then a free state (like Maine) must also be admitted.  And all territories above the Louisiana Purchase would be free.  The Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed the new state to decide for itself if it wants to be free or slave.

In Alton, Illinois, Douglas attacked Lincoln’s House Divided Speech.  You know:  “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”  Lincoln reminded Douglas that the Kansas-Nebraska Act repealed the Missouri Compromise.  Although Lincoln would lose his bid at senator, the Lincoln-Douglas debates put him in the national political headlights and he would become the Republican candidate for the presidential election of 1860.


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