School Children, Partners Surpass Goal to Purchase Historic Lincoln Document

Contributing their pennies and spare change, Sangamon County school children have raised the money required to purchase an historic Abraham Lincoln document and return it to Illinois for the state’s bicentennial celebration. State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez and Illinois Bicentennial Commissioner Rikeesha Phelon announced today that children from schools throughout the county boosted by local business partners have raised, at current count, $18,031; surpassing the $15,000 needed to purchase the Minute Book of Sangamon County that includes the testament to Abraham Lincoln’s “good moral character” needed for him to begin practicing law in Illinois.

Still time to donate your pennies

There is still time to donate your pennies to the help buy back an important Lincoln artifact and return it to Illinois.

A Sangamon County Kids Bicentennial Campaign

To celebrate the Illinois Bicentennial, Sangamon County school kids are encouraged to donate pennies to purchase a historic Abraham Lincoln artifact that contains the certification of his "good moral character" and permitted him to begin his law career in Springfield.

The campaign, “Illinois Proud Penny Drive,” is a two-week drive beginning in Sangamon County schools on April 16, 2018. The campaign goal is to raise $15,000 by April 27, 2018.

Community residents or businesses wishing to donate to the kid’s campaign can make checks payable to the “Illinois Proud Penny Drive” at Bank of Springfield locations.

"Good Moral Character"

One of the important aspects of the Illinois Proud Penny Drive is to remind kids and our community how important it is to have good moral character.  This illustrates that even in Abraham Lincoln's time it was the first requirement in order for him to begin his law career in Springfield.  That certification is documented in the Sangamon County Minute Book from July 1835 to July 1838 as well as information about some of Lincoln's first cases he worked on as a young attorney.

Read more from the experts about why this Lincoln artifact is so important and how "good moral character" was defined in the mid-1800s.  

IL Proud Penny Drive modeled after 1940s kids' campaign to help state get Gettysburg Address

In the early 1940s, at the suggestion of Illinois State Historical Library Trustee Oliver Barrett, school children around the state began a statewide campaign to help raise money to buy the “Everett copy” of President Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address from New York manuscript and rare books dealer Thomas Madigan. The fundraising drive was nicknamed “Nickell’s Nickels” after State Superintendent Vernon Nickell.

Children across the state were asked to make an average donation of 5 cents and were able to raise $50,000. Chicago department store heir Marshall Field III later donated the remaining $10,000 to purchase the historic document.