Learning Lincoln On-line

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


Topic 10.  Abraham Lincoln, lawyer (Lincoln’s Hat Activity)


How About all Those Tall Hats, with me in the middle?
The Lincoln Presenters are, from left:  Jim Conine  Larry Givens, Howard Taylor (Guest of the Lincolns), Jim Rubin, Ralph Borrer, far right, our own  B.F. Mac, McClerren
   Abraham Lincoln 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.

TRIAL LAW has its' own special vocabulary.  Go to the Trial Law Vocabulary site to learn many of the words and meanings,.


1.  Select an actual court case from Abraham's tall hat file.

2.  Start by reviewing and studying the "cast of characters" on this page.  Decide which of the characters you will include in your trial(s).

3.  Choose as many cases as you would like to hear, and then be the Judge.  Judge Davis was the judge of the 8th Circuit, in which most of these cases were heard.  Some cases are about business dealings, some about property ownership, some about Murder!

4.  While "judging" the case, you need to make sure the trial is fair, only the truth is said, and that the jury (if there is one) decides on their own.  You don't want any outside influence on the Jury's decision. 

5.  If a bench trial, the Judge (you), will have to decide guilt or innocence, or who gets the property.  You will have to render the verdict.  Remember:  a person is innocent until proven guilty. The state has to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

6.  Click the link to get a trial reporting form and complete it for your case and trial.

7.  Judges often render an opinion on a case along with the final decision about what is to be done to the plaintiff.  Write a one page opinion (like an essay) on the final trial decision and results.  Include what you think happened to the plaintiff. 


 Lincoln's Friends and Associates on the 8th Circuit

Stephen Logan
(Left) The last living man to be
cross-examined by Lincoln:  James Hobbit

(Right)  Robert Hitt, the first official stenographerin Illinois, and would report some of Lincoln's arguments


John Stuart
Judge Lawrence Weldon


Abe's Competitors

John Palmer

Judge David Davis

Judge John Reynolds

Judge Stephen Douglas

Samuel Treat

William "Billy" Herndon

Abraham Lincoln

Click Here for a Trial Form to Record the Decisions

Choose Your Case,

Read about it and complete the Trial Form

CASE # 1
 William "Duff"
Armstrong Moonshine Murder Case


CASE # 3
"Chicken Bone" Case"



CASE # 2
Mrs. Goings Murder Case

CASE #4 
Matson Slave Trial


       To Give Your Case a True Lincoln Feeling, these photos are from the old Macon County Courthouse (Log) with really nice furniture ready for Judge, Defense and Prosecuting Attorneys, and audience.  Abraham Lincoln was very popular with area people when he would hold court.  The room would be filled. He was a very serious lawyer, very smart, a good detective, and knew the law.  He was known to tell a story that directly related to the case and people involved.

During the recesses, and lunch Abraham was known to visit with the young people outside the courthouse and play a little stick ball.  No wonder most people loved and respected this unusual country lawyer.

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