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Lincoln - Douglas Square
Broadway St. and Landmarks Blvd Alton, IL 62002

Lincoln-Douglas Debate Wayside Exhibit

The final senatorial debate between Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln took place in front of Alton's city hall at the corner of Broadway and Market Streets in 1858.

The debate itself drew national attention and more than 6,000 people gathered in downtown Alton for the event.

That moment in time is forever frozen in time at the Lincoln-Douglas Square. Lifesize bronze statues depict the two men intensely debating the issues of the time. 

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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.

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Lincoln Douglas Debate Site
Washington Sq. Park 101 E. Lafayette St. Ottawa, Illinois 61350

Lincoln-Douglas Debate

The first Lincoln-Douglas senatorial debate was held in Ottawa’s historic Washington Square on August 21, 1858. Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas stood in this beautiful park to deliver the first of seven senatorial debates. It was estimated that 20,000 spectators gathered to witness this famous debate. The site of the debate is marked by a boulder and plaque, and a fountain topped by bronze statues of the “Railsplitter” and “The Little Giant” forms the centerpiece of the beautifully landscaped square.

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Lincoln Douglas Debate Square
114 E. Douglas St. Freeport, Illinois 61032

Lincoln-Douglas Debate

On August 27, 1858, the most significant of the historic Lincoln-Douglas debates took place in Freeport, IL and gave the nation direction in succeeding years due to the famous Freeport Doctrine. While Stephen Douglas kept his seat in the Senate after the debates, his reply that each state should be perfectly free to do as it pleased in regards to slavery, no matter the ruling of the Supreme Court, stirred a sentiment of betrayal among constituents that would come back to haunt him in his bid for President in the election of 1860. Abraham Lincoln’s point that “a house divided could not stand,” his belief that Americans of every race were entitled to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and his stance against Douglas’ advocacy for popular sovereignty were what ultimately led to his election later on.

Visit the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Square in historic downtown Freeport, next to the Union Dairy, to see the first statue ever erected to include both Lincoln and Douglas in commemoration of the debates that influenced US history. This landmark is one of two points of interest for Lincoln history in Stephenson County.

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Lincoln Memorial Park
521 N. Main Street Jonesboro, Illinois 62952

Lincoln-Douglas Debate

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.

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Lincoln-Douglas Debate Mural
500 Public Square Jonesboro, IL 62952

Lincoln-Douglas Debate

Local muralist Kris Killman from nearby Marion painted a mural depiciting the Lincoln-Douglas debate from 1858.  The mural is a recreation of the center section of an orginal painting done by Maurice Metzger of Anna, Illinois.  Metzger was well-known for painting wildlife and southern Illinois landmarks.  The mural is outdoors and is available for viewing year-round.

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Lincoln-Douglas Debate Museum
128 N. 5th Street Quincy, Illinois 62301

Friends of Lincoln Lincoln-Douglas Debate Museum Top Destination

The museum reopened with updated exhibits in 2023 on the 165th anniversary of the debate after an 18-month renovation. Located across the street from the debate site in Washington Park, the museum includes five state-of-the-art videos and four new exhibits. The Turning Point video and exhibit panels explain why the debate was so important, how it affected United States history, and its importance in defining the morality of slavery and catapulting Abraham Lincoln to national attention.

The Museum was an undertaking of the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition and Quincy's Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. It is located across the street from the debate site in Washington Park and was dedicated in October 2009 as a lasting legacy to the sixth debate and to commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s place in Quincy’s history.

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Lincoln-Douglas Debate Site
N. 5th Street Quincy, Illinois 62301

Good for Kids Historic Site Lincoln-Douglas Debate

Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas campaigned in 1858 to become a United States Senator from Illinois. They agreed upon a series of seven debates in different parts of the state, the sixth of which was held in Quincy. The Sesquicentennial Plaza commemorates the Lincoln-Douglas Debate in Washington Park and was rededicated by the community and Quincy’s Lincoln Bicentennial Commission in 2008. 

Sesquicentennial Plaza design elements:

• A bas relief sculpture by renowned artist Lorado Taft. 

• Two Looking for Lincoln storyboards providing historical context of the debate.

• A concrete plaza featuring an 1858 map of the United States and an Illinois flag.

• A low limestone wall flanking the plaza which features six pairs of points/counterpoints from the debate.

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Quincy Underground Railroad Museum - Dr. Richard Eells House
415 Jersey St. Quincy, Illinois 62301

Guided/Self-Guided Tours Historic House Museum Underground Railroad

Dr. Richard Eells built this home, now located within the Downtown Quincy Historic District, in 1835.  

Eells built only the front portion of the house as it stands today, four blocks from the Mississippi River. He lived here until his death in 1848. Quincy, Illinois, was the first Underground Railroad station across the border of Missouri—a slave state. An abolitionist, Eells was actively involved in the Underground Railroad. In 1842 he was caught helping an escaped slave, Charley, from Monticello, Missouri. Charley was brought to the Eells house by a freed black, Barryman Barnett, who had spotted Charley swimming across the Mississippi River. While transporting Charley to Quincy's Mission Institute, a safer hiding place, Eells came across a posse looking for Charley. Charley fled, on Eells's advice, and was later found and returned to Missiouri. Eells returned home where he was shortly arrested and charged with harboring and secreting a fugitive slave under the Illinois Criminal Code. Judge Stephen A. Douglas heard the case in April 1843, and fined Eells $400, which he appealed.

Meanwhile, Eells became president of the Illinois Anti-Slavery Party in 1843 and was a candidate for the Liberty Party for the presidential election of 1844. He lost his appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, the process of which drained him financially and emotionally. Eells died on a river boat on the Ohio River while on a a trip east to rest. His estate appealed his case to United States Supreme Court, which also upheld the guilt verdict. The town of Quincy is also notable as the location of the sixth Lincoln-Douglas debate of their senatorial campaign on October 13, 1858, a debate which centered on the question of expansion of slavery.

Today, this restored home houses the Quincy Underground Railroad Museum, and interprets the story of the Underground Railroad and Eels.

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Woodlawn Farm
1463 Gierkie Lane Jacksonville, Illinois 62650

Good for Kids Guided/Self-Guided Tours Historic House Underground Railroad

The showcase homestead of Jacksonville's extensive Underground Railroad network. Former slaves were ushered through this home on their way to freedom. This Farm, five miles east of Jacksonville, was established in 1824 by Michael Huffaker. Michael and his wife, Jane, rode by horseback from Kentucky, bought land east of Jacksonville, and built a cabin for their growing family and four cabins for free black families who helped Michael raise cattle, horses and crops. In 1840 he built the two story brick home which stands to this day on the property. Michael and his family were members of the Antioch Christian Church founded by Barton Stone.

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