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Old State Capitol
It seems like George Washington gets all of the love during Presidents Day, so we'll focus on that other February-born president, Abraham Lincoln. To pay homage to the 16th president, of course you have to go to the Land of Lincoln, specifically Springfield.
As Illinois' capital, the city is the state's legislative hub. But Springfield used to be Lincoln's stomping grounds back in the day when he was just an up-and-coming politician and lawyer.
This year marks the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth, a fact you might have been made aware of in the flurry of pre-Inauguration coverage but is worth mentioning again in light of the Library of Congress's exhibition "With Malice Toward None." Opening on Lincoln's birthday in Washington this year, the groundbreaking collection moves west to Sacramento.
Opening at the California Museum June 24, "With Malice Toward None," taking its title from Lincoln's second inaugural address (given less than a month before his assassination) includes personal documents including the Bible he (and Barack Obama) were sworn in on, old school books and his crib notes from the Lincoln-Douglas debates which first introduced him as a political up-and-comer.
Ah, Presidents Day. Nobody really knows what it's about, but everybody likes a day off. Since we're feeling a little patriotic today, we've rustled up some presidential sites worth seeing.
There's lots of George Washington stuff all over the country, including Mount Rushmore. (If you didn't have the day off for a presidential trip, check in with Washington on that quarter in your pocket.) And since he's been trying to horn in on Presidents Day, we've gone ahead and tipped our stovepipe hat to Abraham Lincoln.
· GW Took the Oath of Office at Federal Hall [Official Site]
· Carpenters' Hall Hosted the First Continental Congress [Official Site]
· G-Dubs Distilled Lots of Booze at Mount Vernon [Official Site]
· Valley Forge Is Now a National Historical Park [Official Site]
· Lincoln Spent Most of the Civil War at His Cottage [Official Site]
Citizens of Illinois! Do you hunger for Presidential history yet dread the thought of driving down to Springfield, a capitol city so vile that governor Rod Blagojevich opts not to live there? Head to picturesque Galena, IL, instead. It's about a four hour drive from Chicago. Here you can tour the onetime home of Ulysses S. Grant while you also enjoy the town's charming architecture and seemingly endless supply of candy and antique shops.
And if you really can't live without a dose of Honest Abe, the state's most celebrated resident once gave a speech on the balcony of the DeSoto House Hotel. (If you're still not impressed, a scene from "Field of Dreams" was filmed down the street from the hotel.)