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Why Is Illinois Called the "Land of Lincoln"?

Illinois proudly bears the nickname "Land of Lincoln" as a tribute to Abraham Lincoln, the revered 16th President of the United States, who shaped his political career and left an indelible legacy within its borders. His journey from a humble log cabin to the White House is a testament to the state's historical significance. How did Lincoln's path define Illinois? Continue with us to uncover the story.
Henry Gaudet
Henry Gaudet

The "Land of Lincoln" is the nickname and official state slogan of Illinois, a reference to United States President Abraham Lincoln’s early political career there. Abraham Lincoln first served in the Illinois General Assembly beginning in 1834. His presidency might have secured his place in history, but it was his work representing the people of Illinois, first at the state level and later at in the U.S. House of Representatives, that associated his name so closely with that state and caused Illinois to become known as the "Land of Lincoln."

Proud of the connection between their state and the former president, Illinois officials sought to commemorate that link in an official manner. In 1955, the state made "Land of Lincoln," already a nickname for the state, into the official Illinois motto. That same year, the U.S. Congress granted a special copyright to the "Land of Lincoln" insignia, a silhouette of Lincoln inside an outline of the state.

Prior to entering politics, Lincoln was a lawyer who was based in Springfield, Illinois.
Prior to entering politics, Lincoln was a lawyer who was based in Springfield, Illinois.

"Land of Lincoln" is not a reference to the president’s birthplace, as many people assume. He was born in 1809 in a cabin about 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Hodgenville, Kentucky. In 1816, he and his family moved to Indiana. It was not until 1830 that he moved with his family to Illinois, where he tried his hand at a number of professions before turning to political life. It was Lincoln's political service that forged the connection between Illinois and its favorite adopted son.

Lincoln's political service in Illinois lead to the state being called the "Land of Lincoln."
Lincoln's political service in Illinois lead to the state being called the "Land of Lincoln."

In 1832, Lincoln made his first bid for public office in the Illinois General Assembly. That attempt was unsuccessful, but two years later, he won, beginning the first of four terms in the state legislature. In 1846, he won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and in 1847 began his single term there. He also ran for the U.S. Senate in 1858, where he won the popular vote but lost the election.

The early political career of President Lincoln had its roots in Illinois.
The early political career of President Lincoln had its roots in Illinois.

Finally, in 1861, Abraham Lincoln became the sixteenth U.S. president. During his time in office, he guided the nation through a bloody Civil War, a conflict that rose largely out of the issue of slavery, and with the Emancipation Proclamation, perhaps his best known act as president, he outlawed the ownership of one person by another. His role in the Civil War and in defining and defending human rights, along with his assassination in 1865, have elevated Lincoln’s legacy from historical to near-mythical — one of the most trusted figures of all time. His name is associated with treasured values such as honesty, integrity and humility. In the years since his assassination, President Lincoln has become a powerful symbol.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Illinois known as the "Land of Lincoln"?

Illinois is known as the "Land of Lincoln" because it was the state where Abraham Lincoln launched his political career, served as a legislator, and rose to national prominence. Lincoln lived in Illinois for 24 years before becoming the 16th President of the United States. The state adopted the nickname officially in 1955 to honor Lincoln's legacy and the significant impact he had on both Illinois and the nation.

What connections did Abraham Lincoln have to Illinois?

Abraham Lincoln moved to Illinois from Indiana in 1830. He began his political career in the state, serving four consecutive terms in the Illinois House of Representatives. Lincoln also practiced law in Illinois, traveling the circuit of courts for many years. His home in Springfield, Illinois, is now a National Historic Site, and his tomb is in Oak Ridge Cemetery in the same city.

When did Illinois officially adopt the "Land of Lincoln" nickname?

Illinois officially adopted the "Land of Lincoln" nickname in 1955. The designation was made to pay tribute to Abraham Lincoln's influence and to promote the state's heritage. This nickname is also featured on the state's license plates, further cementing the association between Lincoln and Illinois.

Are there any significant landmarks related to Lincoln in Illinois?

Yes, Illinois is home to numerous landmarks related to Abraham Lincoln. The most notable include the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Lincoln's home and tomb, the Old State Capitol where he delivered his famous "House Divided" speech, and New Salem, a reconstructed village where Lincoln lived for six years. These sites are integral to understanding Lincoln's life and legacy.

How does Illinois celebrate Lincoln's legacy today?

Illinois celebrates Lincoln's legacy through various means, including educational programs, public commemorations, and preservation of historical sites. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, for instance, offers exhibits and resources about his life and times. Additionally, the state observes Lincoln's birthday as a public holiday, and events such as reenactments and lectures are common, especially in Springfield, the heart of Lincoln heritage in Illinois.

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    • Prior to entering politics, Lincoln was a lawyer who was based in Springfield, Illinois.
      By: jay clark
      Prior to entering politics, Lincoln was a lawyer who was based in Springfield, Illinois.
    • Lincoln's political service in Illinois lead to the state being called the "Land of Lincoln."
      By: olavs
      Lincoln's political service in Illinois lead to the state being called the "Land of Lincoln."
    • The early political career of President Lincoln had its roots in Illinois.
      By: James Steidl
      The early political career of President Lincoln had its roots in Illinois.