Visitors Guide to the
Lincoln Memorial Park
521 N. Main Street
Jonesboro, Illinois
618-253-7114
 

 
Accessible Parking Accessible Picnic Facilities Accessible Interpretive Exhibits Accessible Illinois Historic Site Accessible Hiking Trails Accessible Wildlife Viewing Accessible Restrooms
   
 





 
 

Lincoln Memorial Park is the site of the third of seven debates between Abraham Lincoln and Steven A. Douglas for the 1858 Illinois U.S. Senate seat. There are two historical markers in the park. The oldest consists of a plaque set in stone between statues of Lincoln and Douglas. The newer interpretive marker was placed as part of the “Looking for Lincoln” campaign maintained by the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition and reads:

Background of the Debates

Young Abraham Lincoln "Lost His Taste" for politics and was content with his thriving law practice after having served four terms in the Illinois Legislature in the 1830's and a term in Congress i the 1840's.  However, several national events stirred his moral conscience and spurred him into action.  U.S. Senator Stephen A. Douglas' Kansas-Nebraska Act state that the choice of slavery was up to the citizens of each new state--or "popular sovereignty."  The Dred Scott decision in 1857 claimed that slaves are property, and the book Uncle Tom's Cabin caused abolitionists to pressure Congress to outlaw slaver.  Lincoln didn't promote abolishing existing slavery, but he followed the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which allowed for equal number of slave and free states in new territories.  He challenged incumbent Douglas to debate him and allow Douglas to select the sites of Ottawa, Freeport, Jonesboro, Charleston, Galesburg, Quincy and Alton.  At the Jonesboro debate Douglas stated, "...the negro is not and never out to be a citizen of the United States."

Jonesboro was a sleepy town, and the city of Anna was only four years old in 1858.  Douglas chose Union County for the site of this debate because of strong Southern sympathies here, hoping Lincoln would express abolitionist views.  Douglas had said he wanted to "trot Lincoln down to Egypt," a common name for Southern Illinois.  Douglas believed this strongly Democratic country, under the leadership of John S. Hacker, would support him.  The party was split, however, with one group of Democrats calling themselves "Danites."  They were led by John Daugherty (later to be Lt. Gov. of Illinois).  David L. Phillips, a friend of Lincoln who was campaigning against John A. Logan for a seat in Congress, encouraged Lincoln to come to Jonesboro and stay at his home in Anna, which is still standing today."

To mark the 150th anniversary celebration of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates Jonesboro, dedicated life-sized bronze statues of Lincoln and Douglas in what is now called Lincoln Memorial Park. Located next to the Shawnee National Forest Ranger Station the site is maintained by the U.S. Forest Service and features picnic facilities and interpretive exhibits. The area offers three walking loops of less than 1/2 mile. The walking paths are on paved surface and surrounded with various plant and tree species. The Lincoln Memorial pond provides great scenery for walkers and a great habitat for turtles.

 
     
  Visiting the Lincoln Memorial Park
     Hours:
          6 am - 10 pm

There is no charge to visit the Lincoln Memorial Park.
 
   
 
Directions: The Lincoln Memorial Park is located approximately 1/3 mile north of Jonesboro's public square on N. Main Street next to the Shawnee National Forest's Mississippi Bluffs Ranger Station.
 
   
  GPS Coordinates
37° 27.496'
W 89° 16.116'
 
   
  Learn more about the Jonesboro area.  
   
 
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