Monday, November 12, 2007

Lincoln Riding The Law Circuit


Abraham Lincoln spent much of his time as a lawyer riding the law circuit in rural Illinois. In those days in the late 1840's and early 1850's, lawyers and judges would travel the "circuit" from small town to small town, trying local cases. These small towns were too lightly populated to support full-time legal officials, thus the circuit riders. It was from this circuit riding that many of the traditional stories about Lincoln have come down to us.

Lincoln was able to develop and refine his keen political sense while on the circuit. Every evening after the daily court sessions were over, he would swap stories with his companions, discuss the momentous issues facing the country at the time, and began friendships which lasted until his death.

One of his circuit companions was David Davis, a Maryland-born lawyer and judge. They traveled together very often and developed a deep friendship. During the 1860 Presidential campaign, Davis served as Lincoln's campaign manager. Lincoln appointed judge Davis to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The above information is derived from a 1955 issue of American Heritage magazine, which can be read here.

1 comment:

klkatz said...

it was a tough job and not many people wanted to do it. there's a pretty cool exhibit on "the circuit" at Independence Hall in philadelphia -- http://www.nps.gov/inde/index.htm

 
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