Learning Lincoln On-line

Topic Sets to Study Abraham Lincoln His Life and Before the Civil War


Topic 10.  Abraham Lincoln, lawyer at Springfield

The Tall Nine and Others

The Mr. Lincoln Friends website has information about Abraham Lincoln's law partners in Illinois

Also in the  Mr. Lincoln Friends Website we can read about Lincoln and Political Patronage (appointing or hiring of friends)

      Abraham Lincoln was raised literally in the "wilderness" of Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois.  It would not be until 1831 that he would finally live on his own, as an adult, in a small village called New Salem.  There he would quickly develop friendships that would go with him throughout his Illinois and later Washington years.  His appearance would sometimes cause a bit of stumble in developing friendships with new people.  As soon as he would begin talking, the new acquaintance would become comfortable with the new "tall" man's personality.  Abe, as he did not like to be called, would use self- deprecating humor to get people over the shock and awe of his outward appearance.  In later advanced political life, such as running for president, he would be ridiculed for his appearance through writings and political cartoons.

      Did he really look that unusual?  He also had a different voice tone for a big man.  His voice was rather high-pitched.  We now see hundreds of pictures of Lincoln and do not notice anything unusual about his appearance.  We have to take the word of biographers about his voice tone.  Abe would read everything "out loud," and this mannerism perhaps came from his self-learning and lack of formal education.

      Lincoln had a lot of friends from New Salem, Springfield and Central Illinois.  He entered the world of politics and law.  This world would also at the  high-society level of the times.  In fact he would achieve the highest levels for both:  president of the U.S., and a very important trial lawyer.  His main friends came from his professional relationships.  He also had friends that were perhaps neighbors in New Salem and Springfield.  The list would be long, and nearly impossible to compile including all of Abe's friends.

      Abraham Lincoln would be called up in the Black Hawk War to serve in the Illinois Volunteers (what is now the Illinois National Guard).  He didn't have to do any killing or war, but enjoyed all the friendships he gained being the captain of his regiment.  These friendships would remain.  His leadership as the captain would help in leadership in later years.

      The Claremont Institute article, "A Genius for Friendship" by By Scott Johnson and john Hinderaker describe the young Abraham's ability to make and maintain friends.

       "In 1831 Lincoln left home at age 22 to strike out on his own in the struggling frontier town of New Salem, Illinois. He had no trade and few prospects. The single most striking fact about him as a young man is his genius for friendship. As one of his New Salem contemporaries recalled, "Lincoln had nothing only plenty of friends." He was obviously one of the most likable men who ever lived, a man who radiated decency. Moreover, the better his acquaintances got to know him, the more they liked him. Those who got to know him best, such as the acquaintances with whom he shared boarding rooms as an impoverished young man, became lifelong friends. The student of Lincoln who can see him through the eyes of these friends will have a similar experience."  Lincoln was a sportsman, and wrestling was his specialty.  Johnson and Hinderaker describe Lincoln's wrestling as an important means for Lincoln to make new friends.  He would usually win the matches.  This wrestling was not in anger, and was mere fun.

Lincoln's lawyer practice and politicking would take him into a state-wide, and later national range for new friends.

Here is a timeline or listing, as such of Lincoln's friends from New Salem through Washington D.C.  

New Salem Years

. . . Abraham traveled around the countryside on his horse, Bob, or later would have the comfort of a "not so fancy" buggy.  He didn't take a large trunk of clothes, books or supplies, didn't have an S-U-V, or such convenience to carry his papers and necessary books.  He would have to pack the books and larger items in smaller sized saddle bags.
. . .but legal documents and papers were stored in the lining of his tall hat.  This was a safe place and very convenient.   This Activity is Dedicated to Abe Lincoln's tall hat, and all cases that he won, or lost.

Lincoln's Friends and Associates on

 the 8th Circuit


Abe's Opponents

John Palmer Usher

John Todd Stuart

Judge David Davis

Judge John Reynolds

Judge Lawrence Weldon

Orlando Bell Ficklin

Usher F. Linder

William "Billy" Herndon

Judge Stephen Douglas

Samuel Treat

Stephen Logan



Claremont Institute

Use the timeline provided to find the answers. 

In addition, go to Lincoln the Lawyer story for more answers. 

Lincoln Home National Memorial has a nice explanation of Lincoln's homes throughout his pre-Presidential years.  Go here for that.

1. Abraham Lincoln moved into Illinois in what year?
2. Where did he and his family live that first year?
3. Which Illinois city did Abraham meet Mary Todd, start his law career, and get married?
4. Who were Lincoln's law partners at Springfield?

5. What judge was Lincoln close friends with when riding the 8th circuit?
6. The Lincolns purchased their only home in Springfield.  What was the address of that home?
7. Lincoln had many nephews, cousins, and a step-mother that he would visit often.  Where did these relatives live?

8.  As President-elect, Abraham would make a final trip to see his step-mother for the last time.  Where did the dinner take place at this meeting?

Go to the Lincoln in Illinois narrative site to find information for these questions?

Click the Introduction for the answers to 1-4

1.  How long did Lincoln practice law in Illinois?

2.  List the levels of law that Lincoln could practice? 

3.  List the three law partnerships Lincoln had at Springfield?

4.  List the types of cases Lincoln would represent?

Click Legal Education and answer these questions:

5.  Describe what kind of law experiences Lincoln had at New Salem (1831-1837) with the justice of the peace, Bowling Green?

6.  Lincoln almost decided against going into law at New Salem.  Why?  Who helped convince him to go ahead and pursue law?

7.  How did Lincoln study for law at New Salem?  Where did he get his law books and list a couple of the titles?

8.  Starting in March of 1836, the process of becoming a licensed lawyer began, with what determination by the Sangamon County Clerk?

9.  When did Lincoln receive his formal law examination (now called the bar exam) and become a licensed lawyer?

Go Here to answer these questions about Lincoln on the 8th Circuit: 

10.  Lincoln would travel around several counties to help his clients in a big variety of cases.  What were the counties?  How did he and the rest of the lawyers, judges, clerks and others travel?

11.  By 1850, how did Lincoln and the others get to travel to their courthouses?

12.  Did Lincoln have regular partners while on the 15-county circuit?  Could he work with and against the same fellow lawyer in the different cases?

Click Here for answers concerning Lincoln's  Appellate Practice:

13.  What is an appellate court?  Click Here

14.  What court did the Appellate Court practice under?   Where did the Appellate Court have sessions? 

Click Here for answers concerning the Federal Court system:

15.  Who would use the Federal Court system at Springfield? 

17.  Why do we not have records of the 1850's Lincoln Federal court cases?

Go Here to find answers to questions concerning the types of cases Lincoln would practice, and his clients.

18.  What was the "cause" of most of Lincoln's cases? 

19.  Who was his largest client?

20.  Did he ever oppose his largest client (answer to #19)

Click Here to find out about Lincoln's legal charges to clients.  How much did he get for a regular case?  How much for a U.S. Circuit Court Case?

Lastly, to see Lincoln's Illinois Roots, completely, we need to learn about his Illinois political career.  Click Here to find answers to these questions.


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