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Abraham Lincoln, Law Career (American National Biography)

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James M. McPherson, "Lincoln, Abraham," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/04/04-00631.html.

After retiring from the legislature in 1841, Lincoln devoted most of his time to his law practice. In 1841 he formed a partnership with Stephen T. Logan, who helped him become more thorough and meticulous in preparing his cases. The Springfield courts sat only a few weeks a year, requiring Lincoln to ride the circuit of county courts throughout central Illinois for several months each spring and fall. Most of his cases involved damage to crops by foraging livestock, property disputes, debts, and assault and battery, with an occasional murder trial to liven interest. By the time of his marriage Lincoln was earning $1,200 a year, income equal to the governor's salary. In 1844 he bought a house in Springfield--the only home he ever owned. In 1844 he also dissolved his partnership with Logan and formed a new one with 26-year-old William H. Herndon, to whom Lincoln became a mentor.

During the 1850s he became one of the leading lawyers in the state. His annual income reached $5,000. The burst of railroad construction during the decade generated a large caseload. Lincoln at various times represented railroads…. Yet it would be misleading to describe Lincoln as a "corporation lawyer" in the modern sense of that term, since he opposed corporations with equal frequency…. Lincoln continued to ride the circuit each spring and fall; the great majority of cases handled by Lincoln and Herndon (some 200 each year) concerned local matters of debt, ejectment, slander and libel, trespass, foreclosure, divorce….

How to Cite This Page: "Abraham Lincoln, Law Career (American National Biography)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/17750.