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tv   Illinois State Capitol  CSPAN  February 16, 2019 4:43pm-5:01pm EST

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[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its captioning content and accuracy. visit] [inaudible] >> history book shelf features the country's best known american history writers of the past decade talking about their books. you can watch our weekly series every saturday at 4:00 p.m. eastern here on american history tv on c-span 3. >> this weekend, american history tv is joining our comcast cable partners to showcase the history of springfield, illinois. to learn more about the cities
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on our current tour, visit we continue with our look at the history of springfield. >> the purpose of this building was to show that illinois was now a player in the world. illinois had it made. when they built this building, when they knew they were going to build a new capital. they wanted something that showed that illinois and we were it. that is what this building is. that is what to some extent it represents. we are actually the sixth capital building in this weren't. the old state capital is the fifth and the first one in springfield. illinois was settled from the south to the north. the original capital of illinois was on the mississippi 80 miles south of st. louis. but we knew that illinois which went all the way to the
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wisconsin border was eventually going to go north the they built a new capital 80 miles north. they knew the population was going to go farther north. a lot of towns vied for the new capital, including springfield. springfield was read by a young legislator led by abraham lincoln and long nine. they were all six feet tall or taller. they did everything they could to get the capital to springfield. some say some of position they did were underhand. they spent millions and millions of dollars to build canals. in 1839 and officially in 1940, springfield became the capital. illinois was still pretty much the frontier.
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again, it was a very nice building but quickly ran out of space. it was still the capital for almost 40 years because this was built. the location where the capital is was at one point going to be the location for where lincoln was buried. but mary todd lincoln didn't downtown uried in springfield. he wound up being buried in oak ridge in a very nice peaceful cemetery. that left this lot empty and his is why the capital was built in this location. the building actually opened in 1876. the legislature met here for the first time in 1877. but at that time construction stopped. we were $571,000 short of completing it. the voters of illinois would
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not give us more money to finish the building. you are going to find this hard to believe, but we have a reputation in illinois for corruption, believe it or not. so at the same time that the capital building is being built, we are going through a new constitution. actually in 1870 we got our third constitution. construction began in 1868. they put in the constitution, the voters and some of the legislators were so concerned there would be cost overruns and there would be problems just raising the fees and the architects would come back for more and more money with no justification on how it was spent. they actually put in the new constitution that you could only spend $3.5 million on this building. what that meant was -- anybody can change an appropriations bill. anybody can appropriate more money. but to change the constitution takes 60% of the vote in the legislature and it takes the voters of illinois to approve. so twice the legislature voted for an additional $571,000,
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which is what it was going to take to finish this building, and twice the voters said no. the third time the voters finally said yes. then the legislature was able to appropriate the money and construction was starred again. construction starred again in 1887, a 10-year gap, and the building was finished in 1888. so it took 20 years told, but there was a 10-year gap in there. we are in the highest popt in the capital that people can go. i like this spot because you can see a lot of things and a great place for me to talk about how they built this building. when they built this building in the 1870 he is' and 1880's, they did do the steel struck support. it is stone upon stone. the only steel is the rotund itself, over 90 feet wide. at the top you will see over 9,000 pieces of stained class. the doumit receive is held up
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by 24 pillars. there is no steel or metal in this building. it is stone on stone. the builders when they built this place, they had to use certain building techniques. the marble pillars up there and down here are not michelle. it is brick painted to look like marble. you will see that throughout. it is lighter as you go up. at the bayless of the -- at the base of the dome is a bronze leaf. that is plaster painted to look like bronze. that is eight scenes in illinois history. we had that 10-year gap between when the building opened and when they got enough money to complete the building. so these individual panels had been done when the building opened in 1877, but they hadn't been installed. in the meantime, the artist died by the time they got around to installing this. at first they didn't even know these panels were here.
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once they found them, it was obviously where they went. but they were not sure about the order. over here is one of the finest pieces of art in my mind in the building, the last panel, which is the lincoln -- douglas debate. standing. ling you see westerners meeting with native americans and trading with them. you will see a missionaries with a young baby. you will see a pastoral scene where you have illinois farmers working the fields. that is saul fine and good. but because the artist had died and the panels weren't labeled, we aren't sure about the rest of the panels and what order they should be in. they are kind of out of order. here is one with a man next to lincoln with his arm up. some say that is patrick henry, give me liberty or give me death. that doesn't make sense because
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these are illinois scenes. i think that is the constitutional convention of 1818. so that is fine. if you go over here, you have peter cartwright. he was doing a revival meeting. well, that is out of order. you have the 1840's, 1818 and the 1858 debate. you have the black hawk and the black hawk war. that is out of order. that should have been earlier in the proceedings. they are beautiful panels. it is really nice art, but it is not 100% accurate. this is room 212, which other than the into chambers, the house and senate, is probably the prettiest room in the building. it is the old supreme court room. it served as the supreme court in 1877 until the supreme court got its own building across the street in 1908. it is the best example of a
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process which was done by the architect, pinch inknard. e took paperer mache and plaster, mix them together and put a mold on the skeeling, which is much lighter than using a wood finish. he would put the paperer mache and the plaster into the mold, and they would just glue it to ceiling. it was very popular in europe in the late 1800's when this building was being build, but i am not sure it made the transition to the saints. this is a fine example and unique to the building itself. the room itself was actually modeled after the palace in venice. if you look at that portrait, that is a life size portrait of lady justice. she has her foot on money because justice can't be bought.
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one of my favorite little things about this building is in the back of this portrait of lady justice, of a goddess, you see the illinois state capital in the background. i really think that kind of displays a little bit of the humor that people had in the 1870's and 1880's. i find it so interesting that the state capital is in this classical portrait. >> we are in the chamber of the illinois house. there are 118 members of the illinois house, 59 members in the senate. the illinois house in this chamber, it has been restored to how it looked when the building opened in 1877. it is an absolutely beautiful room. in the house, what i like about it is you can tell which sides the democrats are on and which side the reublicans are. the democrats are on this side, overlooked by steven douglas in a portrait. then on this side, the republican side, you have the
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portrait of abraham lincoln overlooking the republicans. the rivalry between lincoln and douglas almost began from the beginning. douglas only served one term in the state legislature, but he was always around and always the leader. efforts very ambition and leader of the democrats. lincoln was the leader of the wigs. springfield was the capital city at the time. because it was a small community at the time, they went to the same functions, the same parties. they got along on a personal level fairly well. they were rivals for mary todd lincoln for her hand. abraham lincoln obviously won. some local wags might say he lost, but lincoln obviously won. douglas always seemed like he was eclipsing lincoln. his career went so fast. he was secretary of state, on the illinois supreme court. he was elected to congress. he became a powerful and well known u.s. senator.
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lincoln spent four teams in the legislature, one term in congress, and his political career was over for a while. as the slavery issue heated up, lincoln got back into politics. he and dulgheru has had some major disagreements. in 1858 they ran for senate against each other. douglas won. but reasoner getting discouraged, lincoln had made a national name for himself. two years later he ran for president and defeated douglas and two other candidates and was elected. . so that is reflected in this building, a building that neither one of them served. doing has actually died in 1861 before the end of the civil war, and lincoln died at the end of the civil war in 1865. the building construction didn't start until 1868. so they never served in this building, but they were the two major leaders for each party in illinois in the 1800's.
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if you go to the front of the building, you will see a statue of lincoln and a statue of douglas. a lot of people will say douglas is permanently in the shadow of lincoln. that is one way to look at the story. i prefer to think that douglas has lincoln's back. in the early months of the administration, he had a stovepipe hat. he wanted to take the hat off, but he didn't know what to do with it. douglas came up to him and said i will hold your hat, mr. president, a real sign of unity between the parties and certainly the unity in the north. a sign of lincoln and dulgheru has and relationship they had. we are in the congressional building. 59 senate districts and 118 in the house. just like in the house, you have the democrats on one side, republicans on the other.
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unlike the house, you don't have douglas and lincoln overlooking the two parties. douglas and lincoln both served in the house, neither in the senate. the senate chamber, just like the illinois house was restored in 2006-2007. from 1997 to 2005, one of the state senators here was barack obama was and went on became president of the united states. because he served before the restoration, his desk is not here. where he would have sat is here. he was generally in the back row. his last spot was here. he was here for four sessions. this is where senator obama would have sat for those sessions. in 2018 senator obama, u.s. senator obama, is elected president. he announced his candidacy at
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the old state cal in sprfled in 2007. he came to springfield to announce his candidacy for the white house. in 2018 he returned to springfield where he announced david jacoby as his running -- joe bidenen as his running -- joe biden as his running mate. his first visit out of the white house after being inaugurated was to springfield. the last time he was in springfield was in 2016. he came to springfield kind of on a farewell tour. he gave an eloquent speech in the house chamber. many of the legislators had served with him. one of the more interesting things about this building is you can run into everybody from the senate president, to janitors, tour guide and tough who have their own obama story because he served in this building for eight years from
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1997 to 2005. everybody has a story. some of those stories are he used to take cigarettes from me and we would go smoke outside the building. some of the stories are late-night poker games with other legislators. he reminisced about that with them. he delivered a speech again in a joint session in the house chamber. i think it was a very -- it was very good for springfield and for the state capital, his acknowledgement that this is where his career began. as his political career was winding down. and i think it was very good for this is the people's building. this is what i love most about this building, you look at the statues of famous illinoisa ns, these are the people who made not just illinois, but the country. and they are not all good, they wholeod, bad, ugly, the
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nine yards and you can see that all in this building. we are in the middle of the states in the most beautiful building, one of the most beautiful buildings in the country in the greatest state, of course. and you can see it all just walking through here. that's my favorite part of the illinois state capital. tour staffes travel to springfield, illinois to learn more about its rich history. learn more on tour. you are watching american history tv, all weekend every weekend on c-span3. the 240thar marks anniversary of early naval war hero stephen decatur's birth. historians discussed his early naval career including the recapture of the hms macedonian and the capture of


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