Lincoln-Douglas Debate Museum program on Thursday to tell story of Lincoln’s rum sweat

Lincoln rum sweat

A rum sweat is an old folk remedy. It involves setting a bowl of rum on fire and absorbing the vapors while wrapped in heavy blankets. Profuse sweating results in supposedly ridding the body of impurities and restoring vitality. | Image courtesy of Lincoln-Douglas Debate Museum website

QUINCY — The Lincoln-Douglas Debate Museum, 128 N. Fifth, has announced its next entry in the History Happy Hour program series will be “Hidden History: Lincoln’s Rum Sweat,” scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 21.

The speaker is Iris Nelson, a local Lincoln historian and member of the museum’s advisory board. The program will include a video presentation and a question-and-answer session.

Why has the unknown episode of Lincoln’s breakdown after the sixth debate in Quincy been hidden for so long? It was unrecorded in Lincoln literature and in community history until recently. Nelson uncovered the story and will add perspective to the behind-the-scenes event and describe the cure that allowed Lincoln to continue the Illinois Senate race against his opponent, Sen. Stephen A. Douglas.

In a press release, Nelson said, “Lincoln’s time in Quincy was arguably the turning point of his political career, placing him directly on the path to a successful presidential campaign. While the museum’s focal point is on this turning point, we are very proud of the extensive research that has gone into many related Lincoln stories with Quincy roots, including the topic of this talk — Lincoln’s little-known cure known as the rum sweat, which enabled him to continue in the race.”

The public is welcome. There is no cost to attend. However, donations to the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Museum will be accepted. For more information, visit

The Lincoln-Douglas Debate Museum is open to the public Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. it is closed on Sundays and most major holidays.

The purpose of Quincy’s Lincoln-Douglas Debate Museum is to celebrate and educate the public about the Lincoln-Douglas debate, likely the most important event of national significance in the city’s history.

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