2009 Lincoln Cent Design #3 | Professional Life in Illinois Penny

The third 2009 Lincoln penny design launches at the Old State Capital in Springfield, Illinois on August 13, 2009. The design represents Lincoln's professional life in Illinois from 1830-1861.

2009 Lincoln Cent Design #3

The third designed 2009 Lincoln Penny, or cent, portrays Lincoln standing in front of the State Capitol in Illinois. The coin includes the inscriptions UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, E PLURIBUS UNUM and ONE CENT.

It was designed by United States Mint AIP Master Designer Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart.

Lincoln's professional life in Illinois (1830-1861)

The year 1830 brought about another move for the Lincoln family. Hearing of fertile prairies that were easy to farm, they packed up their belongings and moved to Illinois. At 21, Abraham was now an adult, and would move out on his own to make a living. For six years, he would call New Salem, Illinois home and would venture into several different occupations. These would include store clerk, postmaster, surveyor, rail splitter, soldier, and finally in 1834 he would make a foray into politics when he was elected to the Illinois General Assembly. Politics seemed to suit him, and within a few years, he was considered to be a leader of the Whig Party of Illinois.

1837 found Abraham moving to Springfield, the new state capital. His newly received law license in hand, he set up practice, and was adequately successful. Traveling the surrounding nine counties as a lawyer on the 8th Judicial Circuit, he did find time for romance once he met Mary Todd, age 21, at a dance.

Their courtship was not a smooth one. The first of January 1841, Abraham called off his engagement to Mary Todd. This was attributed to the depression that he was thought to be suffering from. A year later, the two were once again engaged, and wed in Springfield on November 4, 1842. Married life was an adjustment for the new bride. She was the daughter of a rich slave-owning family from Kentucky, and was not used to doing the menial tasks required of a less than wealthy housewife.

Four sons would be born to the Lincolns within a ten year period. Robert Todd was the first born in 1843. He would live the longest, well into the 20th century. Eddie would die at the age of 3. Willie lived for twelve years, but would pass while Lincoln was in the White House. Finally, Thomas (known as Tad), who was known to be Lincoln's favorite, would out-survive his father, but only by a few years.

After serving 4 successive terms to the Illinois General Assembly, Abraham turned his site on the national political scene. In 1846, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. As a freshman representative, he did not wield much power, but did impress a number of his colleagues. So much so, in fact, that newly elected President Zachary Taylor offered to appoint him as Governor of the Oregon Territory. Abraham declined the offer, opting instead to return to Illinois and his law practice.

As a private citizen for a number of years, Abraham would return to politics in 1854, giving speeches in response to his opposition of the Kansas-Nebraska Act which repealed the Missouri Compromise and would allow new territories to determine if they would allow slavery. In one such speech (given in Peoria, Illinois,) Abe is attributed with stating:

“Little by little, but steadily as man's march to the grave, we have been giving up the old for the new faith. Nearly eighty years ago we began by declaring that all men are created equal; but now from that beginning we have run down to the other declaration, that for some men to enslave others is a 'sacred right of self-government.' These principles cannot stand together. They are as opposite as God and Mammon; and whoever holds to the one must despise the other.”

This string of speeches would continue as Lincoln also voiced his opposition to the Dred Scott Decision of the United States Supreme Court. In 1856, Abraham helped to found the new Republican Party of Illinois. At the Republican National Convention, Abe even received some votes to become the Vice President. This was not to be his fate.

His attempt to defeat incumbent Stephen A. Douglas for the position of United States senator from Illinois ended in failure, but not before Lincoln made many public statements such as the "House Divided" speech, forcing him to the forefront of American politics. In this speech, Abraham continued to voice his concerns and foreshadowed the events that would befall the United States:

"A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as newNorth as well as South."

Losing his bid to become senator, Abraham did catch the attention of many nationwide. Those in the north thought his position on slavery was in their best interests, and those outside the original 13 colonies liked the fact that he was a frontiersman. Without ever going on the campaign trail, Abraham was elected the 16th President of the United States on November 6, 1860, a fact further irritating the southern states, as he was not even on the ballot in 9 of them.

In a farewell speech to residents of Springfield, Abraham once again uttered words that would become eerily true for him:

"My friends - No one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting… I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. "


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