Skip to content

From Candidate to President and Beyond

Lincoln won the presidency in 1860 largely over the issue of slavery’s expansion.

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.
— Bloomington's Pantagraph, on Lincoln's election victory November 7, 1860
Newspaper clipping announcing the ‘glorious news’ of voter support for Lincoln. It reads

Bloomington Pantagraph, November 7, 1860

Newspaper clipping announcing the ‘glorious news’ of voter support for Lincoln. It reads
Campaign lithograph featuring portraits of both Lincoln and Hamlin, promoting protections to American industry.

1860 campaign lithograph.

Credit: Courtesy the Library of Congress
Campaign lithograph featuring portraits of both Lincoln and Hamlin, promoting protections to American industry.

Lincoln and Hamlin Campaign Tokens

Two small gold-colored tokens, with black and white photos of Lincoln and Hamlin in the center.

Circa 1860


Donated by: Mrs. E. James and Lincoln Weldon
816.1048

Two small gold-colored tokens, with black and white photos of Lincoln and Hamlin in the center.

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.

Black and white photo of a young woman in a dark dress with a lace collar, dark hair with a middle part.

Fanny McCullough

Credit: Courtesy the Library of Congress
Black and white photo of a young woman in a dark dress with a lace collar, dark hair with a middle part.
Black and white photo of a cursive letter written to Fanny, signed A. Lincoln

Lincoln to Fanny McCullough, 1862

Credit: Courtesy the Library of Congress
Black and white photo of a cursive letter written to Fanny, signed A. Lincoln

Leonard Swett

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.

Newspaper clipping announcing removal of union General Fremont.

Bloomington Weekly Pantagraph, November 6, 1861

Newspaper clipping announcing removal of union General Fremont.

David Davis

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.

Black and photo of large bearded man in judge’s cloak.

Judge David Davis.

Black and photo of large bearded man in judge’s cloak.

Davis’ Calling Card Case

Photo of a brown leather clutch that folds closed.

Circa 1870


94.3.399.1

Photo of a brown leather clutch that folds closed.

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.

Newspaper clipping announcing the beginning of the Civil War.

The attack on Fort Sumter signaled the beginning of the Civil War.

Credit: April 17, 1861
Newspaper clipping announcing the beginning of the Civil War.
Newspaper clipping entitled “A New Call for 500 Thousand”

The war’s unprecedented slaughter found Lincoln calling for an ever-greater number of troops.

Newspaper clipping entitled “A New Call for 500 Thousand”
Newspaper clipping announcing Lincoln’s renomination for president.

Lincoln campaigned and won re-election in the midst of war.

Credit: June 15, 1864
Newspaper clipping announcing Lincoln’s renomination for president.
Newspaper clipping with typed Gettysburg address.

Two of Lincoln's closest friends from Bloomington, Leonard Swett and Ward Hill Lamon, accompanied him to Gettysburg for the November 19, 1863 address.

Credit: November 25, 1863
Newspaper clipping with typed Gettysburg address.
Newspaper clipping announcing “The Great Victory of the War” with different fonts and a celebratory drawing.

April 10, 1865.

Newspaper clipping announcing “The Great Victory of the War” with different fonts and a celebratory drawing.

Lincoln's Assassination

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.
— Bloomington Pantagraph
April 18, 1865
Black and white photo of a large crowd outside a courthouse.

On Sunday, April 16, 1865, 5,000-plus area residents gathered on the Courthouse Square to mourn Lincoln. Indignation (meaning righteous anger) meetings such as this were held throughout the North

Black and white photo of a large crowd outside a courthouse.
Newspaper clipping announcing Lincoln’s assassins still at large.

April 17, 1865.

Newspaper clipping announcing Lincoln’s assassins still at large.

Mourning Badge

Small cloth American flag ribbon and brass Eagle with shield.

William Schmidt, a Bloomington grocer who immigrated from Germany, wore this mourning badge at Lincoln's funeral.

Circa 1865


Donated by: H. Schmidt
816.980

Small cloth American flag ribbon and brass Eagle with shield.

Fire Companies in Mourning

Members of Bloomington's fire companies, No.1 and No. 2, wore special mourning ribbons.

Mourning Ribbons

Two ribbons, one reading McLean Fire Co. No 2., the second reading Prairie Bird Fire Co. No. 1, both lightly smudged and burned.

Circa 1865


846.1361, 816.1047

Two ribbons, one reading McLean Fire Co. No 2., the second reading Prairie Bird Fire Co. No. 1, both lightly smudged and burned.

Mourning Ribbon

Dark ribbon with black and white photo of Lincoln in the center, surrounded by small, ornate brass frame.

With brass-framed portrait of Abraham Lincoln.

Circa 1865


816.982

Dark ribbon with black and white photo of Lincoln in the center, surrounded by small, ornate brass frame.
Previous: The Dark Horse Candidate Next: Real or Not Real?