The Arrival of Archaeology and the Shadow of Lincoln

in The Sangamo Frontier

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780226514246
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226514239 | DOI:
The Arrival of Archaeology and the Shadow of Lincoln

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Some of the earliest historical archaeology in the country was conducted in central Illinois. Shortly after Abraham Lincoln's death in 1865, people began visiting a lonely bluff-top pasture overlooking the Sangamon River, known to the locals as Old Salem Hill. The bluff had been the site of a short-lived commercial village called New Salem, inhabited during the 1830s by 100 to 200 people. One of those residents had been Lincoln, who lived there between 1831 and 1837. Sixty years after its abandonment, its remains became a shrine—not only as an early home to Lincoln, but as the place that saw his transformation from a backwoods laborer into one of the world's great leaders. The site of this little frontier village is now the busiest state historic site in Illinois, visited by over a half million people annually. Many of the icons and stereotypes of the American log cabin frontier were born on this little hill overlooking the Sangamon River.

Keywords: archaeology; Abraham Lincoln; Illinois; Sangamon River; Old Salem Hill; New Salem; frontier village; historic site

Chapter.  4758 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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