From Candidate to President and Beyond
Lincoln won the presidency in 1860
largely over the issue of slavery’s
“There never has been an election which has so directly involved the great principles of Eternal Justice, and the righteous policy of a Free Government, as this recent November election. What the voters did then must remain a matter of his- tory for all future years of this Republic. As we doubt not, the vote was for Freedom, that has become a turning point in our nation’s history.”
In Contact with McLean County
Through the dark years of the Civil War, Lincoln kept in contact with many McLean County friends — through appointments, letters, and White House visits.
When Lincoln’s friend Colonel William McCullough of Bloomington was killed in the Civil War, Lincoln wrote a fatherly letter to McCullough’s daughter Fanny.
During Lincoln’s four-plus years in the White House,
Leonard Swett spent about half his time lobbying
for the President, or on special assignment for him.
In the fall of 1861, for instance, Swett headed to Missouri to deliver the controversial order dismissing Union General John C. Fremont.
In 1862 Swett and others from the Eighth Circuit
successfully pressured Lincoln to appoint Judge David
Davis to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Davis left the Supreme Court in 1877 to serve in the U.S. Senate, where he remained until 1883.
Following the News
McLean County residents followed the ups and downs of
Lincoln’s presidency and the Union war effort in The
Pantagraph, Bloomington’s leading newspaper.
Jubilation followed news of the war's certain end, but that joy was short-lived.
The Pantagraph received its first
news of Lincoln’s assassination on
the morning of Saturday, April 15,
1865. A hastily printed “extra” was on
Bloomington streets by 9 a.m.
McLean County residents felt a profound loss. They responded to
the news of Lincoln’s assassination with both sorrow and anger.
“Men wept in the streets and women and children sobbed as though they had lost a father or brother, or member of the family.”
Fire Companies in Mourning
Members of Bloomington's fire companies, No.1 and No. 2, wore special mourning ribbons.