Three from the Road – no. 11
Springfield Union Station, adjacent to the Lincoln Presidential Library, operated for 73 years beginning January 2, 1898. It now serves as the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library visitor center.
Union Square Park and Springfield Union Station occupy a city block next to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. The park is the location of many free events and performances.
A larger than life bronze of Lincoln, A Greater Task, stands in the park. The title refers to his farewell speech at Springfield as he left to go to Washington after being elected president.
At the dedication of the statue in 2006, its sculptor, John McClarey, said, “On a cold and rainy day in Springfield on February 11, 1861, Lincoln said goodbye to friends and turned his face toward Washington, D.C. An awesome task lay ahead, as well as the judgment of God and history. Lincoln’s task would be to save the nation and to promise a ‘new birth of freedom’ for all Americans. He would guide the nation through the ‘fiery trial’ of civil war which would test the American character and commitment to the principles that founded the nation. Near the end, he would lay out a road map for peace and reconciliation that would ‘bind up the nation’s wounds’ and restore the ‘mystic chords’ of union so badly broken during that war. Notice in the sculpture that his body language suggests two qualities of leadership that would mark his administration – toughness and compassion. Throughout his administration, he would demonstrate his willingness and capacity for both, and in doing so would transform the nation as well as himself. As always, he hoped that the ‘better angels of our nature’ would guide us. That hope, that ‘greater task’ must be our task as well.”
Home of Abraham Lincoln from 1837 to 1861, Springfield is the largest city in Central Illinois. The city includes a number of historic sites associated with Lincoln.
Largely through the efforts of Abraham Lincoln and associates, Springfield became the third capital of the state of Illinois in 1839.
There are at least 39 places named Springfield in the United States.
We visited Springfield, Illinois in September 2008.
Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum and Union Station/Square
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