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I was looking at Obama's 2004 democratic convention speech.

He said "crossroads of a nation, land of Lincoln, let me express my deepest gratitude..."

I think "land of Lincoln" is referring to Illinois, Lincoln's home state.

So, what is "crossroads of a nation", is that Chicago heights? But that's "crossroads of THE nation" according Wiki.

Where did he learn his writing style? Is it from Martin Luther King, Jr and JF Kennedy?

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  • I assume crossroads also refers to Chicago's geographic location. It's got a foot in the east by its relative proximity, but it is decidedly not the east - it represents expansion out of the east. Of course you can expand on that through metaphor.
    – asveikau
    Jan 24 '14 at 5:17
  • thanks, do you want to explain a little more, move it to the answers section, and then I can accept it as answer.
    – user13985
    Jan 27 '14 at 14:44
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The question about his writing style seems out of scope for this site (you might try BarakExchange, the StackExchange site dedicated to President Obama), but I'll take a stab at the others.

The full relevant quote is "On behalf of the great state of Illinois, crossroads of a nation, land of Lincoln, let me express my deep gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention."

Grammatically, "crossroads of a nation" and "land of Lincoln" are both appositives to Illinois. Looking at the Google search for "illinois crossroads of a nation," it seems that Illinois in general has co-opted the phrase "crossroads of a nation."

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Chicago Heights makes this claim since it (or more technically South Chicago Heights) is the location of an old Sauk east/west migration trial that is intersected by the north/south Indian Vincennes Trail. More recently it is the intersection of the Lincoln Highway and the Dixie highway –routes 30 and 1, I think).

But, like the city itself, these highways have faded in importance

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If you look at a map, Lake Michigan juts fairly far south, and is wide enough to prevent any bridges across it. There is a way around it to the north (over a fairly long bridge), but it's circuitous at best. Thus the lake creates a "choke point" for land traffic along the northern part of the US.

It is therefore pretty much a given that all roads passing "through" to points east or west along the northern 1/3rd or so of the US will pass through Chicago, or near it (Gary and Hammond). The roads all "cross" here. Even today, the Interstate highways I-80, I-90, I-94 (all major east-west roadways) and I-65 (a major north-south roadway) all pass through this region.

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