Abraham Lincoln portraits from 1860 being given to all Illinois county courthouses

BELLEVILLE, IL - A familiar face showed up in Belleville Tuesday morning.

“Illinois Judges Association and the Illinois Bar Association is presenting one of these to every one of the counties in the State of Illinois,” says Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson, 20th Judicial Circuit Illinois.  “There are 102 counties and we are one of those obviously.  Since we are the oldest county in Illinois I think we`re one of the first in the Southern part of the state to have received the portrait.”

Its 30-inches wide and 40-inches tall, the portrait of Abraham Lincoln.

Printed on canvas, the photograph of Lincoln was taken by Springfield photographer Alexander Hesler June 3rd, 1860.

It was used for his presidential campaign.

“In the present climate that we have you look at the divisions taking place when Lincoln became president,” says Gleeson.  “About the time this portrait was done, it`s a constant reminder that we must not forget history.  That we are one unified country and we need to remain one unified country and we need to be able to settle our differences in an amicable and mature and courteous manner.”

This photograph of Lincoln will land in its permanent home, the law library at the St. Clair County Courthouse.

“He gives us the bar to reach for,” says Gleeson.  “He was a lawyer and its particular fitting for him to be here in this courthouse because we forget he was a lawyer.  We think of him as the great president.  But he also spent years on the frontier going from courthouse to courthouse in Southern Illinois.”

“He appeared at both the St. Clair County and the Madison County Courthouses in his travels around the state before he became president,” says Dennis Orsey, 3rd Vice President Illinois State Bar Association.

The Illinois Judges Association and Illinois Bar Association and their foundations donated the funds to have the portrait's placed in all 102 counties in Illinois in conjunction with the state`s bicentennial.

“We know how he aged dramatically during the presidency because of all the stress associated with his position and the Civil War,” says Orsey.  “So, it`s a little more youthful Lincoln look but one I think people will appreciate.”