History of the 1858 DebatesLincoln-Douglas Debate Communities

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
Charleston Tour

Home to Lincoln's Family Last Home and Debate Museum

The site of the fourth Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Charleston is and excellent place to start exploring the early history of Abraham Lincoln, moving back in time beginning with the Debates and moving through the pre-debate arrangements and into Lincoln's time as a lawyer and his roots as a poor farmer's son. This two-day excursion can be picked apart thematically or simply followed as is, but either way guarantees something for the whole family.

Charleston also features a museum which highlights the Lincoln Douglas Debates and the Lincoln log Cabin State Historic site is a 10- minute drive from that site.

Day One (8 hours including travel time)


A hard life - Lincoln's father and step-mother finally settled just outside of Charleston where they both lived until they died. Thomas Lincoln's life as a farmer was tough and his relationship with his son seemed to be distant.

Lincoln Douglas Debate Museum (30 minutes)

Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site (2 hours)


As a young legislator, Lincoln was elected and served in Vandalia which was the capital of Illinois until 1839. In these earliest of roots in politics we see Lincoln the politician and statesman develope.

Vandalia Statehouse State Historic Site (40 minutes)

Fayette County Museum (30 minutes)


At age 22 Lincoln left his family in Decatur and began to take his life into his own hands. Having lived there once before with his family, Lincoln chose to return to Illinois and made it forever his own.

Macon County Historical Museum (1 hour)


Featuring the Bryant Cottage, the pre-debate site, where Lincoln and Douglas are believed to have arranged for the debates to take place. Even without the stories of Lincoln hounding Douglas acros the state, this beautiful example of 1850's Americana is not to be missed.

Bryant Cottage State Park (40 minutes)

Visitors are encouraged to continue on to Urbana-Champaign where they can enjoy a variety of Bed and Breakfasts or hotel stays.

Day Two (5 hours including travel time)


A short hop from Urbana-Champaign, the visitor may explore the prairie and the Civil War -Experience pioneer life as Lincoln would remember it and understand the affects of the Civil War on the County.

Early American Museum (60 minutes)


Lincoln spent many days in Danville as a lawyer on the 8th Judicial Circuit. Developing friendships with lawyers here that would set his support in stone, visitoes can learn about how the two roads crossed.

Dr. William Fithian Home (30 minutes)

Vermilion County Museum (30 minutes)

Lincoln Douglas Debate

Lincoln Log Cabin State
    Historic Site/Sargent Farm

Early American Museum

Vermilion County Historical

© Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition • #1 Old State Capitol Plaza • Springfield, IL 62701 • 217.782.6817