Choose Charleston for Lincoln history!

First, be sure to visit the Lincoln Douglas Debate Museum commemorating one of the seven debates between Senator Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln and built at the very site of the 1858 debate. This debate was witnessed by a crowd of over 12,000 people.

Next, learn about Lincoln’s family ties to Charleston by visiting Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site in nearby Lerna, the last farm of his father and stepmother, Thomas and Sarah. And while visiting, get your National Parks Passport stamped. Thomas and Sara Bush Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's father and stepmother, were among the early settlers in the Charleston area.

Later in his career, Abraham often visited the area, both for business and pleasure.  Charleston was the last trip from Springfield he made before assuming his place as our 16th president. Lincoln's affection for the humble folk of the Goosenest Prairie remained strong throughout his life.

Before you go, be sure to stop by the Moore Home to see the location where Abraham said goodbye to his beloved stepmother before assuming the presidency in Washington.

Finally, end your Lincoln-related visit by reading the historical markers on the square telling the 19th- century story of the Charleston Riot and the historic courthouse.

You will find Charleston an excellent stop on any Lincoln or history adventure!

Listen to a podcast about the Charleston Riot by clicking here.


For more information:

Charleston Tourism Office
520 Jackson Avenue
Charleston, IL 61920
(217) 345-2484



Nearby Sites

Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site
400 S. Lincoln Hwy Rd. Lerna, Illinois 62440

Friends of Lincoln Good for Kids Historic House Historic Site Passport Site Top Destination Visitor Information

Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, part of the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area, preserves the 19th-century home of Thomas Lincoln and Sarah Bush Lincoln, father and step-mother of our 16th president. Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer living in Springfield by the time his parents moved here, but his burgeoning law practice often brought him to Charleston and the farm, especially during the 1840s. Abraham Lincoln also owned a portion of the farm which he deeded back to his father and step-mother for their use during their lifetime.

Today Lincoln Log Cabin is an 86-acre historic site that is owned and operated by the State of Illinois, managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Sites. The site includes an accurate reproduction of the Lincolns’ two-room cabin that was reconstructed on the original cabin site in 1935-1936 as a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) project. The National Park Service oversaw the creation of Lincoln Log Cabin State Park with CCC labor. The CCC camp, Camp Shiloh, was located within the park’s boundaries and its enrollees were WWI veterans. Today the ten acres in the northwest corner of the park where Camp Shiloh was located is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A working, living history farm has been developed around the cabin, and a second historic farmstead, that of Stephen and Nancy Sargent, has been moved to the site to help broaden visitors’ understanding both of life in the 19th century and Lincoln’s legal practice in the community. The site also includes the Moore Home, where Lincoln bid farewell to his family in 1861 before leaving to assume the Presidency, and the gravesites of Thomas and Sarah Lincoln at the Thomas Lincoln Cemetery.

Don't miss the yearly 'Harvest Frolic' event, held each fall at the site. The event is free and open to the public, demonstrating 19th-century life on the farm. Activities will take place at both the Lincoln and Sargent farms and will include children's games, crafts, and hearth cooking. Visitors are encouraged to take part in period games and activities, and maybe even get their photo with President Lincoln. A number of artisans will be on site demonstrating their crafts including, spinning, pottery, broommaking, blacksmithing, embroidery, and many other 19th-century crafts.

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Moore Home State Historic Site
1442 Lincoln Hwy Rd Lerna, Illinois 62440

Friends of Lincoln Historic House Historic Site

The Moore Home is the site of President-elect Abraham Lincoln’s last visit with his beloved stepmother Sarah and family before traveling to Washington, D.C. on January 31, 1861.  The home is that of Sarah’s daughter Matilda and her husband Reuben Moore.  The 1.5 story frame structure dating to the late 1850s, was reconstructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936 and has been furnished with 1860s period pieces.

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Thomas Lincoln Cemetery
12988 E. Lincoln Hwy Rd. Lerna, Illinois 62440

Friends of Lincoln

Many visit this cemetery to see the burial site of Abraham Lincoln’s father and stepmother, Thomas Lincoln and Sarah Bush Lincoln.

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Charleston City Hall
520 Jackson Avenue Charleston, Illinois 61920

Passport Site

Stop by and get your passport stamped during normal business hours - Monday thru Friday, 8 am - 5 pm. You may wish to call beforehand to insure the building is open for visitors.

Charleston, located in Coles County, Illinois, is home to Eastern Illinois University, a public university with a strong reputation for its teaching programs. Our city is also known for its historic downtown district, and rich Lincoln history. Surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes, including Lake Charleston, which provides opportunities for boating, fishing, and other outdoor activities, Charleston offers an abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities. Overall, Charleston is a charming and welcoming city that offers a range of cultural and recreational opportunities. Charleston gives you the best of rural living in a friendly community.


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Lincoln Douglas Debate Museum
126 E. St. Charleston, Illinois 61920

Lincoln-Douglas Debate Museum

Tour the only museum in Illinois retracing the senatorial debates of 1858 between Abraham Lincoln and Stephan Douglas. The museum offers exhibits and interactive displays that tell the debates’ story through film, audio selections, artifacts and photos.

Explore this site.

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