Illinois Proud Penny Drive
A Sangamon County Kids Bicentennial Campaign
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. 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. This event is recorded in Illinois Bicentennial Commission Illinois Chronicles curriculum.
The Minute Book of the Sangamon County Circuit Court
Following the example of the successful campaign in the 1940s, as part of the 2018 celebration of Illinois’ 200th Birthday, Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez and Illinois Bicentennial Commissioner Rikeesha Phelon are going to help school kids in Sangamon County do something very similar next month. In April, they will be initiating a penny drive kid’s campaign to purchase an important Lincoln artifact that the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum identified as significant. The Minute Book of the Sangamon County Circuit Court from July 6, 1835 to July 7, 1838 contains the certification that allowed Abraham Lincoln to begin his career as an attorney. According to the ALPLM, an Illinois law enacted in 1833 required prospective lawyers to “obtain a certificate procured from the court of an Illinois county certifying to the applicant’s good moral character.” This minute book officially attests to Lincoln receiving such certification with the Sangamon County Circuit Court. The book also includes some of Abraham Lincoln and his new law partner John Todd Stuart’s earliest cases.
To celebrate the Illinois Bicentennial, Sangamon County school kids will be encouraged to donate pennies to purchase the very Minute Book that certified Lincoln’s good moral character and permitted him to begin his career in Springfield. The campaign, “Illinois Proud Penny Drive,” will be a two-week drive beginning on April 16, 2018. The campaign goal is to raise $15,000 by April 27, 2018. Participating schools will be given promotional materials and penny banking bags to collect over the two-week period. Campaign partners the Illinois Bicentennial Commission, Bank of Springfield, Midwest Family Broadcasting and Bunn Gourmet. Community partners wishing to donate to the kid’s campaign can make checks payable to the “Illinois Proud Penny Drive” at 3400 Wabash Ave. Springfield, IL 62711.