Honor the Men Who Made America Great on President’s Day

  |   History, Ottawa

Washington Square Park is the location of  first Lincoln-Douglas debate.

Lincoln’s Birthday and President’s Day are just around the corner and many look forward to a three-day weekend. However, President’s Day means more than getting in a few extra hours of sleep. It is a day of tribute to the great leaders of our country and the historic events that have led to seminal changes in our country. Did you know that Heritage Harbor is located only a few miles away from tributes to one of our great presidents? Come and investigate Ottawa’s rich history!

Visit the Location of the First Debate
Before Abraham Lincoln became president, his first debate with Stephen A. Douglas was held in Ottawa on August 21, 1858. The debate itself was held at the beautiful and historic Washington Square Park. At the time, an estimated 20,000 spectators gathered to watch the now famous debate. Find the exact spot of the debate, marked with a boulder and plaque. The precursor of the president he would become and his values are plainly present when Lincoln stated:

“I think, and shall try to show, that it is wrong; wrong in its direct effect, letting slavery into Kansas and Nebraska-and wrong in its prospective principle, allowing it to spread to every other part of the wide world, where men can be found inclined to take it.”

The Day of the Great Debate Mural by Don Gray

Ottawa has a beautiful mural commemorating the event at La Salle Street and West Jackson Street. As you visit Ottawa, see if you can locate this mural by artist Don Gray. Political events were a festive occasion in the 1800s and parades, hog roasts and medicine hawkers were known to be a part of the activities and people to be met with on such a day. Senator Douglas was a man of great renown at the time and Lincoln was the underdog in this aspect. However, Lincoln would turn out to become the Republic Party standard-bearer after the seven engaging debates. Important figures besides Lincoln and Douglas is that of Owen Lovejoy of Princeton, the brother of the noted abolitionist and legislator, Elijah Lovejoy.

Plan a Getaway
Indulge your senses in natural beauty while taking in the rich history of Ottawa. Only 90 minutes from downtown Chicago, reflect on nature’s beauty as you investigate the area. Bring down the next generation and make a new tradition as you and those you love reflect on America’s great past in and around Ottawa. Contact a friendly and knowledgeable associate to enjoy the best that Heritage Harbor and the Ottawa area have to offer.