Lincoln’s 81 Bottles of Champagne

by Andrew on April 25, 2011

I recently had the chance to visit Vandalia, Illinois.  Our stories from that city will air next week on the American Countryside.  You’re beginning to hear quite a bit about Abraham Lincoln since this is the 150th anniversary of his presidency and the beginning of the Civil War.  Most people don’t realize that Lincoln’s political life began in Vandalia.

Bill fron Lincoln and the Long Nine's Party in Vandalia

Vandalia was the state capital when Lincoln held his first elected office back in 1834.  One of Lincoln’s greatest accomplishments while serving in the state legislature was…moving the capital from Vandalia.  His political friends in the state house were known as the “long nine” because they were all over six feet tall.  The group helped pass legislation to move the capitol to Springfield.

When that legislation passed, they held a party at Capp’s Tavern in Vandalia.  The bill of $223 included $162 of champagne at $2 per bottle.  You can see the bill on one of the wayside exhibits here.  In fact, the city has done a nice job providing ten unique stories about Lincoln.  Each is told on a storyboard that surrounds the old state capitol here.  It’s a great place to take a break and explore a bit of history behind one of the nation’s greatest presidents.

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