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The Old Chicago Wigwam

The Old Chicago Wigwam

In this structure, built along the Chicago River at the southeast corner of Wacker Drive and Lake Street in Chicago, the Republican Party nominated Illinois' Abraham Lincoln for the presidency in 1860. Lincoln's campaign, led by future Supreme Court Justice David Davis, packed the hall with Lincoln men and well-wishers, and derailed the New Yorker William Seward's quest for the nomination. Lincoln himself did not visit the convention, monitoring its progress by telegraph in Springfield, as was the custom at the time. Chicago business leaders paid for the hall's construction. In doing so, they attracted the first American political convention held west of the Allegheny Mountains to their city. The two-story, wooden Wigwam took its name from a Native American word for "temporary shelter," and could seat up to 10,000 people. After the construction, city groups used the building for other large meetings before it burned down, perhaps in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

Image source: University of Chicago
©Copyright 2002 Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project