Remembering a big day for Springfield


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Old State Capitol historic site will celebrate the anniversary of Springfield’s selection as the new Illinois capital Friday with free coffee and the chance to win a Cubs “W” flag that flew over the historic building.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., visitors will get free coffee from local roaster Custom Cup. Any visitor Friday can enter a raffle for a chance to win one of six "W" flags that were raised over the Old State Capitol last year after the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.                

“Becoming the capital city was a huge moment in Springfield’s history, so we think it deserves a little celebration,” said Heidi Brown-McCreery, director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. “The capital moved as the state’s population grew and a more centralized location was needed. Still today, Springfield is a hub of civic activity providing Illinois citizens a convenient access point to their government.” 

Illinois lawmakers voted in February 1837 to move the state capital from Vandalia to Springfield. It took four ballots for Springfield to win out over such cities as Alton, Jacksonville and Peoria.

On March 3 – 180 years ago this Friday – legislation transferring the capital to Springfield was made official by the “council of revision.” Under the state’s constitution at the time, this council made up of the governor and state Supreme Court justices decided whether to approve or veto legislation.

The act empowered Sangamon County to convey the Springfield public square to the governor as the location for a new capitol building. It appointed commissioners who “shall cause to be erected a building of suitable size for a State House, upon the most approved and convenient plan and providing the necessary offices and committee rooms for public use.”  

The Old State Capitol served as the seat of Illinois government from 1839 to 1876. Abraham Lincoln served as a legislator there, launched his 1858 Senate campaign there with his famous “House Divided” speech, and used it as his unofficial transition headquarters after being elected president.

The Old State Capitol is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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