Learning Lincoln On-line


Abraham Lincoln, lawyer (Lincoln’s Hat Activity)-- Lincoln's Circuit Riding Days

Lincoln's Circuit Riding Days --A Story and Learning Activity

From a web article by Benjamin P. Thomas
on the Abraham Lincoln Online website

By Benjamin P. Thomas:

       "The Illinois prairies were thrusting forth new life in early April, 1854, as Abraham Lincoln hitched "Old Buck" to his buggy and prepared to set forth on his customary round of the Eighth Judicial circuit. Bidding good-by to his wife and their three boys--Robert, aged ten; Willie, three; and "Tad," the baby, born just a year before --Lincoln tossed a threadbare carpetbag containing shirts, underwear, a homemade yellow flannel nightgown, and other necessities into the buggy, swung his long body after it, "cluck-clucked" to his horse, and turned northward through Springfield's more prosperous residential section toward the open country. Ahead of him lay a journey of some four hundred miles that would keep him away from home almost ten weeks, with stops for court sessions at seven county towns. "

       "Lincoln loved the life of the circuit--the excitement of court week in the small country towns, the camaraderie of judge and lawyers, the speechmaking and sociability in the evenings, and the esteem in which the simple country people held the members of the bar. He had not expected to follow the circuit this long, however; and if his thoughts turned inward on this first leg of his journey, he could look back on a quick rise in life followed by a disillusionment that held him to circuit practice.  For Lincoln, pulling himself loose from the poverty and aimlessness that marked his background, had learned to use his brain instead of brawn as a means of livelihood; then, employing the law as a springboard, he had rapidly advanced in politics. After serving four terms in the state legislature, he had aspired to go to Congress. Whig party rivalries stood in his way at first; but after he had waited for two other zealous young Whigs to satisfy a similar ambition, his turn had come at last. In December, 1847, he had stepped forth on the national stage."

Riding to 8th Circuit Courthouses, and Other Central Illinois Courthouses

Abraham Lincoln in 1848
. . . a lawyer who taught himself; read "out loud;" and used common sense  to do his cases.  Most of his experience was

"On the Circuit"

A Map of the 8th Circuit
Click the map for a larger view and a listing of counties in the 8th Circuit

The courthouse where Abraham Lincoln practiced law in was built in 1838
Macon County Log Courthouse
ch2   A Picture Tour of Lincoln Era "Illinois Courthouses & Springfield
Click Here to go on the Tour

     Metamora Courthouse

Check out the Postville Courthouse Information

       The only formal education Abraham Lincoln had was equal to one year in public schools, and tutoring by Mentor Graham.  The only formal education Abraham Lincoln had was equal to one year in public schools, and tutoring by Mentor Graham at New Salem concerning the subject of law.

Go Here for Directions

Return to Lincoln the Lawyer Page

16the President Topics Index

Return to Learning On-Line Home Page