The best part of refurbishing the Old State Capitol is the plan to renovate the interpretation of the building as a monument to freedom and equality. Abraham Lincoln wasn't pure on issues of race, but he steadily progressed as an antiracist, and in the building in June 1858 he said the nation, divided over slavery, was doomed. "I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free." In April 1866, a year after Lincoln's death, Frederick Douglass, the former slave who had become a famous orator, came to Springfield and the Statehouse that was even then a monument to antiracism. Beyond an end to slavery, he said, "all persons must stand secure in the broad basis of equal rights for all." The Illinois State Journal reported that Douglass concluded his address by asking that Blacks be given "justice, simple justice." Let reopening of the building include rededication to the cause. –Fletcher Farrar, editor.
Cover: Justin Blandford, superintendent of Springfield's state historic sites for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources,
has spearheaded restoration of the Old State Capitol. PHOTO BY RICH SAAL