Friday, May 27, 2011

From Lincoln to Obama

A couple of days after visiting the present Illinois State Capitol, we stopped by the Old Capitol in Springfield, IL.

This building served as the seat of Illinois state government from 1839 to 1876. At the time, it was the fifth Illinois state government capitol.

The building is closely associated with Abraham Lincoln. He served as part of the first state legislature that sat here between 1840 and 1841. He gave his famous "House Divided" speech here in 1858 in the Representatives Hall.

"'A house divided against itself cannot stand.' I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved; I do not expect the house to fall; but I do expect it will cease to be divided."

After his assassination, he laid in state here as well.

Also located in the Old Capitol was the State Supreme Court. As you can see in the photo, a problem existed that would soon be remedied--the court consisted of four judges. The possibility of 2-2 decisions was corrected with the change to a nine-judge panel.

This room contained desks of legislators as well as an area

for relaxing with card games and other games.

This is the only original desk of senators and representatives. This painting is one of the original paintings hanging in the Illinois House of Representatives.

This is the view from one of the desks in the House of Represen-tatives. The quill pens present a stark contrast to the presence of laptop computers on legislators' desks of today (see yesterday's entry).

A portrait of George Washington hung in the House.

This is the office of Lyman Trumbull, perhaps one of the greatest fighters for African-American rights in our history.

His most prominent legislative achieve-ment as a U.S. Senator from Illinois was his proposal of the Thirteenth Amendment. Trumbull rewrote the resolution of the Thirteenth Amendment, originally written by Senator John Henderson. It amended the United States Constitution so that slavery and servitude were illegal and gave Congress the power to enforce it. With this change, Trumbull fought for the consideration of the amendment. The Senate and the House both passed it and on January 31, 1865, it was sent to the states for ratification.

At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Ulysses S. Grant left Galena (IL) to deliver a group of volunteers to Springfield to join the U.S. Army. When officials there learned that he was a West Point graduate and already had a 15-year military career, he was given this space under the stairs to the gallery of the Senate. Shortly thereafter, he was commissioned a colonel of the 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment and led his forces west to the Mississippi River where he engineered the Union victory at Vicksburg in 1863.

It was from these steps on February 10, 2007, that Senator Barack Obama announced his candidacy for President of the United States.

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