Learning Lincoln On-line


Abraham Lincoln, lawyer (Lincoln’s Hat Activity)-- Lincoln the Lawyer Trivia Hunt

         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.


Use the Abraham Lincoln Online Photo Website about Lincoln's Law Career to find the answers.  Read each article with the photo to figure out the answer.  Click the blue link button to go to find the answer.  Write your answers on a piece of paper.

1.  When did Abraham Lincoln become a member of the Illinois Bar?  How did he learn to be lawyer?  What did Mr. Lincoln have to do to get the license?  Click Here


2.  What was the "Circuit" that Abraham Lincoln and many other lawyers  would travel on during the year?  How long would a circuit tour last?  How did Mr. Lincoln travel on the circuit?   Click Here


3.  What big Illinois corporation did Abraham Lincoln work for as a lawyer?  Reaed Amy Yaeger's article about Lincoln and a railroad (on the Illinois Periodicals Online Project Site)  Click Here


4.  Did Abraham Lincoln ever defend a slave owner?  Who was the owner, and where did this case occur?  Click Here


5.  Isham Reavis wanted some good advice from Lincoln at New Salem on becoming a lawyer.  He talked about how to Study the Law.  Tell in your own words what Mr. Lincoln told Isham about concerning how to study.  Click Here


6.  Robert B. Rutledge described Abe, the law student.  Something happened to Abraham Lincoln after he started studying law.  Tell in your own words how much Mr. Lincoln likes studying law.  Click Here


7.  Fellow lawyer and partner in Springfield, Billy Herndon, described Abe Lincoln's routine in the law office.  What often happened after he would return from lunch at 2:00?  Tell us in your own words why you think Mr. Lincoln had this happen so often.  Click Here


8.  When did Judge Nathanial Pope allow Abraham Lincoln to practice before the Federal Court for the first time?  (Date needed)  Click Here


9.  In 1842, Abraham Lincoln was the first to do something in the new State Capitol Library.  What did he do, and did he use his own name? Click Here


10.  How many cases did Abraham Lincoln and his law firm have before the Illinois Supreme Court in the new State Capitol.  Click Here


11.  How many Illinois counties were in the 8th Circuit in 1849?, (where Abraham Lincoln was assigned?)  Click Here


12.  Name the counties of Illinois in the 8th Circuit.  Did Abraham Lincoln practice cases outside of the 8th Circuit, such as in Coles County?  Click Here to find the answer.




Go to Lincoln Hat Activity and Read about a Case.  Within a group, decide how you decide on a verdict:  guilty or innocent.  Complete a trial court form, and write an opinion about the trial result.

1.  Select an actual court Abraham Lincoln the Lawyer Learning Activity case from Abraham's tall hat file.


2.  Start by reviewing Abraham Lincoln the Lawyer Learning Activity and studying the "cast of characters" on this page.  Decide which of the characters you will include in your selected trial.


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. 



Go to the Macon County Courthouse site to start your search.  The Courthouses are in Illinois.

Go to the Abraham Lincoln Online Photo Site for the listing of Illinois Courthouses that Abe actually practiced.   After getting there, list five courthouses (still standing) and complete the table form below

Lawyer Abraham Lincoln was assigned to cover the 8th Circuit.  It was a very large area.

      This description describes the 8th Circuit in 1839 and reorganized in 1853. Not all county courthouses have historical pictures or information, but the list below includes those still existing. All but one is the original building. Abraham Lincoln also attended court in other counties and towns such as Coles County and Shelby County.

       As organized in 1839, the Circuit included Champaign, Dewitt, Macon, Mason, McLean, Menard, Sangamon and Tazewell. Three years later, Christian, Logan, Shelby and Woodford Counties were added. In 1853 State’s judicial circuits were realigned. The new Eighth Circuit was limited to Sangamon, Logan, McLean, Woodford, Tazewell, DeWitt, Champaign, and Vermilion.

Courthouse Location
Tell something interesting about the Courthouse, as relates to Abraham Lincoln
Mt. Pulaski



Task Four:  Legal and Courtroom Vocabulary

Click Here to Go to the Lincoln-Lawyer-Courtroom-Glossary Directions for this activity will be provided on this page.


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