In artist Don Gray’s rendition, Lincoln and Douglas dramatically address the crowd gathered to hear them. News that the great Senator Douglas would appear in Ottawa caused a great sensation. Politics was more than a spectator sport for men of the day, and political rallies were festive events filled with medicine hawkers, hog roasts, parades and lively debate off the speakers’ platform as well as on it. Audience members heckled and cheered “their man” on the platform, and the orators gave back as good as they got in repartee! The unknown Lincoln would emerge from the seven debates a standard-bearer for the Republican Party, and the momentum would carry him to the White House (against his opponent Douglas) two years later. Also shown on the stand is Owen Lovejoy of Princeton, brother of Elijah Lovejoy, abolitionist, legislator and friend of Lincoln.
Most people associate Lincoln to Ottawa only with his historic debate with Douglas in 1858, however Lincoln had many friends and supporters in Ottawa that made him a frequent visitor. Travel back in time and see Ottawa as he did with this self guided tour!
A splendid example of Greek Revival architecture, the central portion of the then-State Supreme Court building was completed in 1860 at a cost of $29,630. The building was built to house the State Supreme Court, which initially met in Ottawa, Mount Vernon and Springfield. Today Ottawa is the seat of the Third Appellate Court District, which serves 21 northern Illinois counties.l
In the center of the park a memorial commemorates the location of the first Lincoln-Douglas debate on August 21, 1858, with heoric sized bronze statues complete with a reflecting pool. Discover all the treasures hidden in this beautifully maintained park. Come to the Visitors Center to receive a Heritage Tour Book.