Leaders back Lincoln historic expansion

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Staff Report

U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk joined U.S. Representatives Adam Kinzinger, Mike Bost, Rodney Davis and John Shimkus to introduce the bipartisan, bicameral Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area Amendment Act, which would add Livingston County, the City of Freeport in Stephenson County, and the City of Jonesboro in Union County to the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area.

The Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area was first established in 2008 when legislation introduced by Durbin and then-Representative Ray LaHood (R-IL) was signed into law. The legislation made federal grants available for preservation, education and economic development activities across the Heritage Area, which currently covers 42 counties across Illinois. By adding Livingston County, and the cities of Freeport and Jonesboro, all of the sites of Lincoln’s legal career within the Eighth Judicial District, as well as the sites of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, would now be included in the Heritage Area.

“Abraham Lincoln was one of the finest Presidents our nation has ever known, and an example for us all to aspire to,” said Bustos. “I’m proud to join today with my colleagues from Illinois to lead this bipartisan effort to honor his incredible life and legacy by expanding the Lincoln Heritage Area to include the City of Freeport in my Congressional district.”

“Just as Illinois left its mark on the character of Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln left his lasting impressions on our state’s artifacts, landscapes, buildings and folklore,” Durbin said. “That is why I introduced legislation ten years ago to establish the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area and create a network of opportunities for people who are interested in exploring Lincoln’s history in Illinois. Since that bill was signed into law, a growing number of people have been able to explore historic sites in communities across Illinois. I fully support this effort to expand our existing network of Abraham Lincoln heritage sites, and increase opportunities for Illinois visitors and residents alike to experience the magic of Lincoln’s legacy.”

“Abraham Lincoln still stands today as a symbol of human dignity and freedom, and honoring his life and legacy through this Heritage Area expansion is a fitting tribute,” Kirk said.

“This legislation completes the nationally significant story of the life and times of Abraham Lincoln in Illinois,” said Sarah Watson, Executive Director of the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition. “Communities within the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area reap the economic benefits of having visitors come to learn more about their communities in the context of Abraham Lincoln’s life. We appreciate the work of the sponsors of this legislation which will further our mission of preserving, interpreting, and promoting the heritage and culture of Abraham Lincoln’s life in these communities.”

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