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From Obscurity to Greatness: Illinois and Lincoln, 1830-1861

A Road Scholars Program by Kevin Wood

In 1830, the young State of Illinois was the fifth smallest in the nation by population. It was a relatively unknown and mostly undeveloped land with an uncertain future, not necessarily destined for any measure of greatness. That same year, a young man arrived in Illinois and the same could be said about him: unknown, undeveloped, an uncertain future, and not apparently destined for much. The next thirty years would see the transformation of both the state and the man, of both Illinois and Abraham Lincoln. By 1860, Illinois would grow to become the nation’s fourth largest state, full of energy and promise, a microcosm of the entire nation: a mix of northerners and southerners, native-born and immigrant, rich and poor, liberal and conservative, urban and rural. These groups clashed at times but learned how to live and work together to further the interests of all. Abraham Lincoln would grow tremendously, too, to become known throughout the country as the President-elect of a nation in crisis, the leader who needed to keep a divided nation together without abandoning his principles. Come hear Abraham Lincoln himself tell the story of how both he and Illinois rose from obscurity to greatness.

This event is Free and Open to the public. For more information, please contact Betsy Armistead at Betsya4518@aol.com.