Learning Lincoln On-line


President Lincoln's Early Years in Springfield- Politics--1830-1860

CIVIL WAR LEGAL ACTIONS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
LAW HOME PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
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For General Information, Click each "Circuit Rider Sculpture" for the Lincoln Springfield Years Timeline Events


1830-1836- Political beginnings while living at New Salem, including the first "important" stump speech in bare feet; runs for the Illinois General Assembly including wins and losses; his earliest platform and membership in the Whig Party

1837 - Politics: helped to get the Illinois state capital moved from Vandalia to Springfield. April 15; Personal:  leaves New Salem and settles in Springfield; Professional:  Becomes a law partner of John T. Stuart.   In Summer, proposes marriage to Mary Owens, is turned down and the courtship ends.

1838 - Professional: Helps to successfully defend Henry Truett in a famous murder case;  Political: August 6, re-elected to the Illinois Gen. Assembly, becoming Whig floor leader.

1839 - Professional: Travels through nine counties in central and eastern Illinois as a lawyer on the 8th Judicial Circuit. December 3, admitted to practice in United States Circuit Court; Personal: Meets Mary Todd, 21, at a dance.


Early and Mid 1840's

1840 - Professional: In June, Lincoln argues his first case before the Illinois Supreme Court; Political: August 3, re-elected to the Illinois Gen. Assembly; Personal:  In Fall, becomes engaged to Mary Todd.

1841 - Personal: January 1, breaks off engagement with Mary Todd. Has episode of depression; Professional: March 1, forms new law partnership with Stephen T. Logan. In August; Personal: makes a trip by steamboat to Kentucky and sees twelve slaves chained together.

1842 - Political: Does not seek re-election to the legislature; Personal: In Summer, resumes courtship with Mary Todd; Political: In September, accepts a challenge to a duel by Democratic state auditor James Shields over published letters making fun of Shields; Personal: September 22, duel with swords is averted by an explanation of letters; Personal: November 4, marries Mary Todd in Springfield.

1843 - Political: Lincoln is unsuccessful in try for the Whig nomination for U.S. Congress; Personal: August 1, first child, Robert Todd Lincoln, is born.

1844 - Personal: May, the Lincoln family moves into a house in Springfield, bought for $1500; Political: Campaigns for Henry Clay in the presidential election. In December, dissolves law partnership with Logan, then sets up his own practice.

1846 - Personal: March 10, a son, Edward Baker Lincoln is born. May 1, nominated to be the Whig candidate for U.S. Congress. August 3, elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.


Later 1840's

1847 - Personal: Moves into a boarding house in Washington, D.C. with his wife and sons; Political: December 6, takes his seat when Thirtieth Congress convenes. December 22, presents resolutions questioning President Polk about U.S. hostilities with Mexico.

1848 - Political: January 22, gives a speech on floor of the House against President Polk's war policy regarding Mexico. In June, attends the national Whig convention supporting General Zachary Taylor as the nominee for president. Campaigns for Taylor in Maryland and in Boston, Mass., then in Illinois.

1849 - Political: March 7 and 8, makes an appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the Illinois statute of limitations, but is unsuccessful; Professional: March 31, returns to Springfield and leaves politics to practice law; Personal: On May 22, Abraham Lincoln is granted U.S. Patent No. 6,469 (the only president ever granted a patent).




1850 - Personal: February 1, his son Edward dies after a two month illness; Professional: Lincoln resumes his travels in the 8th Judicial Circuit covering over 400 miles in 14 counties in Illinois. 'Honest Abe' gains a reputation as an outstanding lawyer; Personal: December 21, his third son, William Wallace Lincoln (Willie) is born.

1851 - Personal: January 17, Lincoln's father dies.

1853 - Personal: April 4, his fourth son, Thomas (Tad) is born.

1854 - Political: Re-enters politics opposing the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Elected to Illinois legislature but declines the seat in order to try to become U.S. Senator.

1855 - Political: Does not get chosen by the Illinois legislature to be U.S. Senator.

1856 - Political: May 29, helps organize the new Republican party of Illinois. At the first Republican convention Lincoln gets 110 votes for the vice-presidential nomination, bringing him national attention. Campaigns in Illinois for Republican presidential candidate, John C. Frémont.

1857 - Political: June 26, in Springfield, Lincoln speaks against the Dred Scott decision.

1858 - Professional: In May, wins acquittal in a murder trial by using an almanac regarding the height of the moon to discredit a witness; Political: June 16, nominated to be the Republican senator from Illinois, opposing Democrat Stephen A. Douglas. Gives "House Divided" speech at the state convention in Springfield. Also engages Douglas in a series of seven debates with big audiences.

1859 -Political: Illinois legislature chooses Douglas for the U.S. Senate over Lincoln by a vote of 54 to 46; Professional: In the Fall, Lincoln makes his last trip through the 8th Judicial Circuit. December 20, writes a short autobiography.



Lincoln's Cooper-Union speech, February 27, 1860, brought him to national prominence  Click here to read, about the speech.

       Abraham Lincoln's political career mostly occurred in Illinois.  He would win a seat in the Illinois State General Assembly as Representative, a seat as U.S. Representative, and ran for U.S. Senate, losing to Stephen Douglas.  He started out as a Whig party member, and would later help to start the new Republican party.  Lincoln was self-educated, and at New Salem worked on improving his grammar, including speaking and writing.  

 ****NOTE:  Click Here to Read Abraham Lincoln's Political History-- Directions: This page has Multiple Parts.  Follow each Part, and complete them.  


First Political Opponents and Elections

Challenge Questions-- Answer the questions. 

--You can follow a great timeline of Lincoln's political career Here.

--Check James Baldwin's article for answers to these questions

1. Abe's first political party affiliation was with what party?

2. Who was Lincoln's main political opponent--from Illinois?

3. How many times did Abe run for office and lose?  

4. What offices did Lincoln win?

5. Lincoln became a leader of a brand new political party.  What was the name of the party?

6. How did Abraham Lincoln get support of the whole nation when he ran for President?  (there was no TV or Internet--only newspapers in the 19th century)

7. Lincoln's political party became the party that was most instrumental in ending an American institution.  What was the institution?

8.  At the Cooper Union Hall, Lincoln gave a great speech, that got him national attention.  What else did this speech cause to happen to him?  Click Here.


Learning Lincoln On-Line Pages-- Early Years


1.  A timeline of Lincoln Political/ Personal History and Student Directions
2.  The Lincoln Family On-Line Puzzle and Timeline
3.  Abraham and Mary Lincoln Biography 

4 Lincoln as a Stump Speaker in Macon County, Illinois

5.  Politics in Illinois, 1830's

6. Lincoln's Politics in the 1840

7. Politics in Illinois and the U.S. through the 1850's
8. Lincoln Election Wins/Losses Data

9. Lincoln's War Politics 1860's

10. A Summary of President Lincoln's Political History

11. The Commander and Chief Puzzle Activity
12. Lincoln's Primary Reason for Conducting the Civil War:  Unity



Lincoln-Douglas Debates, 1858


The Lincoln-Douglas Debates, 1858--

Senatorial Election in Illinois against Incumbent Steven Douglas

These Highlights are from the History Place Timeline

Visit Other Learning On-Line Sites

Abraham Lincoln Political Beginnings

Learning Lincoln On-Line Topics index

16th President Home Page