Lincoln Legal Briefs

July-September, 1993, Number 27

The Lincoln Calendar

The annual Illinois History Symposium (Springfield, December 3-4) will offer two sessions and numerous papers relating to Lincoln and Illinois legal matters. Conspicuous on the roster of speakers are four staff members from The Lincoln Legal Papers. Martha Benner will use recent findings to describe and analyze Lincoln's occasional service as surrogate judge on the Eighth Circuit. Susan Krause will revisit the famous correspondence between Lincoln and Joshua Speed, focusing with a fresh eye on its lawyer-client dimension. John Lupton uncovered an interesting lynching episode and case in Coles County, and he will discuss it. Dennis Suttles, in "Schism on the Prairie," will explore a tangled Morgan County case involving the Free Portuguese Church. For a program and further information, contact Noreen O'Brien-Davis, Symposium Coordinator, IHPA, Union Station, Springfield, IL 62701 (217/785-7952).

Next February 12 the Abraham Lincoln Association will offer its annual afternoon Lincoln symposium and evening banquet. Both events promise to be lively and informative. Further details will appear in the next issue.

A major event of 1993-94 is the new exhibit, "The Last Best Hope of Earth: Abraham Lincoln and the Promise of America," at the Huntington, San Marino, California. A gala October opening and conference will be followed by other special events throughout the exhibit's duration.


On the Circuit

The third quarter of 1993 yielded a record harvest of newly accessioned documents. Between June and September three separate teams of researchers completed their work in ten counties and brought the grand total from 62,000 to 75,000, an unprecedented increase of 13,000. Principal sources of this infusion were all pertinent records from two of Abraham Lincoln's busiest Eighth Circuit counties, Tazewell and Champaign. In addition, many records from Sangamon and Vermilion counties contributed to the bulging file cabinets.

Also noteworthy, and the subject of generous summertime media attention, were our announcements of sixty newly discovered and "rediscovered" documents in Lincoln's handwriting. To date, staff researchers have found over 100 such records, considerably surpassing even our most optimistic predictions. To properly recognize the talent and patience required to discover a new Lincoln manuscript, we have created the honorary title of "Lincoln Legal Eagle," and proudly bestowed it upon no fewer than seven members of The Lincoln Legal Papers staff.

In addition to major progress with the few remaining Eighth Circuit counties, we completed work in a number of southern Illinois courthouses which contain trial-level records for cases that Lincoln and his partners handled on appeal before the Illinois Supreme Court. These latter searches are focused and relatively simple, requiring an average of only several days each.

One consistent reward of this arduous work is the gracious welcome and generous assistance we receive from county officials, library curators, and local historians wherever we visit. It is not possible to fully acknowledge their help, but herewith we mention people who deserve thanks for their support: Hon. Harold Jensen, Linda Frank, Jean Koch, Naomi Jakobsson, John Hoffmann, Sheryl A. Bautch, and Eric Freyfogle (Champaign County); Rick Etheridge (Edwards County); Mary Lou Moore (Lawrence County); Jean Davis (Marshall County); Hon. Donald Courson, Mary Patton, Barry Gilmer, (Peoria County); Connie Kuenstler (Richland County); Pam Gardner (Tazewell County); Larry Benham (Wabash County); Elias Simpson (Wayne County); Dottie Hopkins-Rehan and Betty Strang (Illinois State Archives).

Now in its fourth year, the search phase has achieved a momentum that ensures completion by the end of 1994. Twenty-three more Illinois counties await a visit, but most of them will require relatively little time. Two large tasks remain: inspection of Illinois Supreme Court dockets, and visits to nearly 20 manuscript libraries throughout the United States.


Staff News

Thanks and best wishes go to Erin Bishop, Research Assistant for nearly three years, who resigned in July to spend the 1993-94 academic year at University College, Dublin, Ireland. Recipient of a coveted Rotary Scholarship, Erin will pursue graduate study in Irish history.

Two experienced staff members were promoted this summer. Susan Krause (M.A. History) accepted full-time status and the rank of Research Associate. John Lupton (M.A. History) also was named Research Associate, and converted from contract to regular employee status.

Joining the effort this fall on a temporary basis were two valued researchers: Sean Brown (M.A. History), who is inspecting Vermilion County case files, and Stacy McDermott (M.A. History), who is entering docket data from Sangamon County. Also new this fall is our 1993-94 graduate assistant, Tara Hughes. Tara lives in neighboring Athens, Illinois, and is a graduate student in the Legal Studies Department at Sangamon State University.

Christopher Schnell (M.A. History) stayed with us through the summer, then accepted an extension for the remainder of the year. He has gained search experience with stints in Champaign and Peoria.



A generally bleak financial status brightened late this summer with important new support from two cosponsors, the Sangamon State University Center for Legal Studies and the University of Illinois College of Law. Equally heartening were two major contributions. The William Nelson Cromwell Foundation renewed its support with a grant of $10,000 for the current year. Our highest personal donation ever, a generous gift of $10,000, came from a loyal supporter who requested anonymity. These latter two contributions enabled us to accelerate our progress with several staff additions noted above.

We acknowledge with deep gratitude the generosity of the following recent donors: J. Steven Beckett, Brigham Young University, Elizabeth Brownstein in memory of Hon. Frank E. Smith, Cullom Davis, Lenore Farmer, Richard Grosboll, Illinois Chiropractic Society Auxiliary, Mr. & Mrs. Robert F. Kincaid, Lincoln Sites Institute, Logan County Genealogical & Historical Society, James B. Parsons, John Corey Qua, Florence G. Roberts in memory of George Hoffmann, Stephen Sauer, Mr. & Mrs. Fred J. Schneeberger, Frank Williams, Margaret P. Winkelmann, Cathryn & Harlington Wood in Memory of George W. Bunn, and Hon. James B. Parsons.


Book Edition Preview

A year-long planning effort, including consultation with our Advisory Board and Editorial Board, has led to agreement on the organization and general contents of the book edition of The Lincoln Legal Papers. Readers may already know that we envision two products: a complete facsimile edition on CD-ROM (optical disc), and a selective five-volume book edition. This latter publication will offer readers a generous exposure to the 75-100 most important and representative cases of Lincoln's 24-year career.

Among several alternative organizing principles there was unanimous agreement that the book edition should present cases according to Lincoln's three successive partnerships. Further, each partnership should be represented by a reasonable balance of common, chancery, and criminal cases, plus non-litigation matter.

The five volumes will be issued in two stages: volumes I (Stuart-Lincoln) and II (Logan-Lincoln plus cumulative index) are scheduled for 1998, and volumes III-V (Lincoln-Herndon plus master case list and cumulative index) will appear in 2002. Each case presentation will include an editorial note that offers context, description and analysis, then edited transcripts of all pertinent documents.

A preliminary glimpse of this plan follows. Reader comments and inquiries are welcome.

Book Edition Contents

Volume I: The Stuart-Lincoln Partnership, 1837-1841 (628 pp.)
Foreword and Preface (10 pp.)
Descriptive and Location Symbols (8 pp.)
Editorial Method (5 pp.)
General Essay on Lincoln's Legal Career (70 pp.)
Lincoln's Legal Education and Apprenticeship (3 items, 25 pp.)
Cases in Common Law (7 cases, 210 pp.)
Cases in Chancery Law (5 cases, 150 pp.)
Cases in Criminal Law (4 cases, 120 pp.)
Non-Litigation Matter: probate, office work (4 items, 30 pp.)

Volume II: The Logan-Lincoln Partnership, 1841-1844 (633 pp.)
Preface (3 pp.)
Cases in Common Law (8 cases, 240 pp.)
Cases in Chancery Law (6 cases, 180 pp.)
Cases in Criminal Law (4 cases, 120 pp.)
Non-Litigation Matter: probate, office work (6 items, 50 pp.)
Index to Volumes I-II (40 pp.)

Volume III: The Lincoln-Herndon Partnership, 1844-1861 (551 pp.)
Preface (3 pp.)
Descriptive and Location Symbols--repeated (8 pp.)
Cases in Common Law (18 cases, 540 pp.)

Volume IV: The Lincoln-Herndon Partnership, 1844-1861 (543 pp.
Preface (3 pp.)
Cases in Chancery Law (14 cases, 420 pp.)
Cases in Criminal Law (4 cases, 120 pp.)

Volume V: The Lincoln-Herndon Partnership, 1844-1861 (525 pp.)
Preface (5 pp.)
Cases in Criminal Law (4 cases, 120 pp.)
Non-Litigation Matter--probate, office work (10 items, 120 pp.)
Master List of Cases (150 pp.)
Index to Volumes III-V (130 pp.)


Holiday Gift Idea

Available to Lincoln enthusiasts by mail order is a handsome and durable white tote bag. Heavy gauge canvas and straps make this an ideal bag for travel needs or books. It is decorated in black, with three illustrations by Lloyd Ostendorff of Lincoln as a lawyer on one side, with "Lincoln Legal Papers" and Lincoln's famous photo portrait made at the time of the "Duff" Armstrong trial on the other.

Persons interested in acquiring this useful souvenir should send a check made out to "Tinsley Dry Goods," and addressed to The Lincoln Legal Papers, Old State Capitol, Springfield, IL, 62701. The price per bag (tax and shipping included) is $14.37.


Recent Visitors

Two distinguished Lincoln scholars were recent guests. Professor David Donald spent a busy week inspecting case files and other records in preparation for his forthcoming one-volume biography of Lincoln. During his visit Professor Donald graciously led a seminar with staff members, discussing several interpretive issues regarding Lincoln. Another visitor was Professor Don Fehrenbacher, who is at work on several projects. In the course of his work he inquired about some cases mentioned in reminiscences by contemporaries of Lincoln.

We also receive a growing number of inquiries by mail and telephone. Historians and genealogists frequently ask about specific cases or individuals who may have been involved in litigation during Lincoln's time. Sometimes it is not possible to fully answer reference questions, but we welcome all inquiries and pledge our best effort to help.

Copyright, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Springfield, Illinois