Located in southern Illinois, the community of Jonesboro was the site of the third Lincoln-Douglas debate in 1858. Lincoln spent the two nights surrounding the debate at the home of David L. Phillips in the adjacent town of Anna. Today, you can visit Lincoln Memorial Park in Jonesboro, the site of the debates. Walk in Lincoln's footsteps in Anna and Jonesboro as you follow the Lincoln Story Trail.
For more information:
- 8th Judicial Circuit
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- Guided/Self-Guided Tours
- Historic House
- Historic Site
- Lincoln-Douglas Debate
- Passport Site
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- Visitor Information
- Wayside Exhibit
P.A.S.T. of Union County Heritage House Museum
102 S. Main St. Jonesboro, Illinois 62952
The furnished home exemplifies fine living in a long-ago era. It features information about the Third Lincoln-Douglas Debate, held in Jonesboro in 1858. Other historic items and pioneer families are also featured. Costumed guides will escort visitors through the home, and special programs will occur through-out the week-end. Please check the Facebook page for up-to-date information. Call 618-697-1870 or 618-833-3228 for tours or events.
Lincoln Memorial Park
521 N. Main Street Jonesboro, Illinois 62952
In the U.S. Forst Service Mississippi Bluffs area, the picnic area offers three walking loops ranging from .24 - .41 miles. 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.
Image courtesy of the Gazette-Democrat.
Background on the Debates
521 N. Main St. Jonesboro, Illinois 62952
Founded in 1818, Jonesboro was the Union County Seat. The adjacent 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 also thought this strongly Democratic county under the leadership of John S. Hacker would support him. However, the party was split with one group of Democrats calling themselves “Danites”. They were led by John Dougherty (later to be Lt. Gov. of Illinois). David L. Phillips, a friend of Lincoln’s 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.
Looking for Lincoln wayside exhibits tell the stories of Lincoln’s life and times in Illinois. Each wayside exhibit tells a unique Lincoln story and a local story. Many of the waysides share little known stories about Lincoln and the individuals he interacted with. There are over 260 Looking for Lincoln waysides in the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area.
Jonesboro Station, Anna
126 W. Davie St. Anna, Illinois 62906
In 1851, when the Illinois Central Railroad began surveying land in Union County, the county seat of Jonesboro was thought to be the logical choice for the location of the tracks. However, the city fathers declined to pay the required $50 surveying fee. Jonesboro businessman, Winstead Davie was not one to ignore an opportunity and personally paid the cost of the survey across his land east of Jonesboro. He donated thirty-seven acres in 1852 and named the new town site Anna, after his wife. There was one disappointment, however. The sign on the depot read JONESBORO STATION for almost twenty years. Finally. in 1873, the sign was replaced by one reading ANNA.
When Abraham Lincoln came to Union County in 1858 for the third debate with Stephen Douglas, he traveled by railroad from Centralia with his friend, D.L. Phillips of Anna. The two men walked to the Phillips home on South Main Street where Lincoln stayed for two nights. After the evening meal, they went to the Union House Hotel in Jonesboro to visit with the reporter and stenographer of the Chicago Press and Tribune. It was there Lincoln recorded in his log that they observed Donati’s Comet.