Lincoln's Vandalia, a Pioneer Portrait

Lincoln's Vandalia, a Pioneer Portrait

Lincoln's Vandalia, a Pioneer Portrait

Lincoln's Vandalia, a Pioneer Portrait

Excerpt

This is the story of a man and a town. The setting is Vandalia. The hero -- or, as Vandalia saw him, the villain -- is Abraham Lincoln. Motorists on U. S. 40 between Terre Haute and St. Louis encounter modern Vandalia as a peaceful town in central Illinois, differing from a thousand others only in a vague tradition of historic events long past. Vandalia is ancient as settlements go in this part of the world. More than a century ago the chief business of the state was centered here. But the day of its glory was brief. Here also began a career in public affairs destined to be of great and permanent importance. The development of the man and the decline of the town were closely interconnected.

If "all the world's a stage," Abraham Lincoln of Sangamon County was a prominent actor on the rustic boards of Vandalia, pioneer capital of Illinois. Tall, slightly stoop-shouldered, young yet weather-beaten, with a face long, lined, and angular, the youthful lawmaker's melancholy appearance changed surprisingly in humorous conversation as his expression brightened and his eyes sparkled, "all terminating," declared a colleague, "in an unrestrained laugh in which every one present willing or unwilling [was] compelled to take part." Acting with the dramatis personae of the log-cabin capital of Illinois, young Lincoln found constant opportunity to expand, to match his wits and works with the important men of the state, to enjoy himself and to enlarge his accomplishments. His colleagues and associates, typical American pioneer leaders, were men who have been largely forgotten. Seen in their contemporary setting, they are figures no less fascinating than the young giant who was destined for great fame.

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