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Abraham Lincoln Long Nine Museum

200 S. Main Street
Athens, Illinois

Origins of the "Long Nine"

The strange-sounding title for this museum comes from the nickname given to Abraham Lincoln and eight others who represented Sangamon County in the Illinois General Assembly during the 1836-37 legislative session. All these men were at least six feet tall and shared similar political principles, hence the "long nine" appellation.

The nine consisted of both senators and representatives: John Dawson, William F. Elkin, Ninian W. Edwards, Job Fletcher, Archer G. Herndon, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew McCormick, Daniel Stone, and Robert L. Wilson. Together they worked to move the state capital from Vandalia to Springfield, which is near Athens (pronounced locally as "A-thens").

Lincoln and the Banquet

In 1837, the General Assembly approved moving the state capital, prompting grateful citizens of Athens to honor the "long nine" members at a public banquet. The August 3 dinner was held on the second floor of this restored building, with about 100 people attending.

According to the Sangamo Journal, Lincoln led the group in a toast, saying, "Sangamon County will ever be true to her best interest and never more so than in reciprocating the good feeling of the citizens of Athens and neighborhood."

Good feelings diminished somewhat two years later, when the boundary of Sangamon County was re-drawn, leaving the town of Athens in the new Menard County. James D. Allen, an Athens businessman, wrote to Lincoln, expressing dissatisfaction about the change.

The Building and Town

Matthew Rogers, a native of Cooperstown, New York, settled in the area around 1820 when he built the first cabin. During 1831-32, when Lincoln lived in nearby New Salem, Rogers erected this frame building to house a general store and the town post office.

Colonel Rogers, who was a veteran of the War of 1812, educated his children in New York and possessed a large personal library. His daughter Arminda was believed to have tutored Ann Rutledge of New Salem, using Kirkham's Grammar and Blair's Rhetoric.

In July 1836 Lincoln began a series of 10 speaking engagements in Athens and nearby communities as part of his re-election campaign for the Illinois legislature. In 1841 he represented Rogers in a bid to re-possess the general store building when the second owner defaulted on the payments.

Restoration of the building began in 1972. It became a museum with a post office and general store on the first floor. Upstairs, visitors can see dioramas depicting the history of the building and Lincoln's early connections to the area. The banquet room features a large oil painting by the late artist Lloyd Ostendorf showing Lincoln in formal dress toasting his colleagues. The basement contains some period artifacts.

In the intersection by the building you can still see a base stone survey marker Lincoln left in the road on November 4, 1834, when he helped relocate the post road to Athens. He received $3 for one day's work and 50 cents for producing a map.

Visiting the Museum

Hours: Open June 1 to September 1, Tuesday through Saturday from 1 - 5 p.m. Closed July 4. Admission charged. For more information call 217/636-8755 or write: A. Lincoln Long Nine Museum, 200 S. Main Street, Athens, IL 62613.

Location: The town of Athens is just seven miles east of New Salem State Park on Route 29. To reach it from I-55, take the Williamsville exit and travel west. The museum is located just south of the flashing stop light.

Related Links
Abraham Lincoln's Long Nine Museum
Looking for Lincoln

Related Reading
Davenport, Don. In Lincoln's Footsteps: A Historical Guide to the Lincoln Sites in Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky. Revised edition, Trails Books, 2002.

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