Series I (Legal Papers)

Series I

The Lincoln Legal Papers is now Series I of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln.

From 1836 to 1861, Abraham Lincoln practiced law in the courts of central Illinois.   This series is an ongoing effort to collect and publish the surviving documentary record of Abraham Lincoln's quarter-century legal career in the federal, state, and county court systems.

The comprehensive electronic component of this series, The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition (University of Illinois Press, 2000), provides access to images of more than 96,000 documents from Abraham Lincoln's legal career.  The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln, Second Edition (Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009), freely available online, provides all of the documents from the Complete Documentary Edition, plus an additional 45 cases, 12 non-litigation activities, and nearly 1,300 new documents.  In addition, the Second Edition features new color images of more than 1,500 documents from the Complete Documentary Edition, many written by Lincoln.

The selective print edition of this series, The Papers of Abraham Lincoln: Legal Documents and Cases, 4 vols. (University of Virginia Press, 2008) provides carefully transcribed and annotated documents from sixty-five of Lincoln's most interesting, important, or representative cases.  Additional chapters document his travels on the Eighth Judicial Circuit, legal activities that did not result in litigation, his role in various official court roles other than attorney, and his reflections on being a lawyer.

Scope

Series I incorporates all Lincoln legal documents from Abraham Lincoln's legal career from his paralegal activity in the early 1830s through his inauguration as President on March 4, 1861.

A "Lincoln legal document" is any of the following:

  • a record, letter, document, contemporary printed account, or after-the-fact recollection that relates directly to Abraham Lincoln’s law practice during the years 1836 to 1861;
  • an original, a copy, or a transcript of a legal document or correspondence written and/or signed by Lincoln and other participants in the legal process, or the practice of law;
  • a record of the court in the form of an entry in clerk’s dockets, judge’s dockets, court record books, execution dockets, judgment dockets, fee books, memorandum books, or other official or unofficial records maintained by the court clerks;
  • a newspaper article, public notice, or advertisement; or
  • an unpublished reminiscence, journal, diary, or memoir of a contemporary or participant in Lincoln-related litigation or nonlitigation matters.

Complete Edition

The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln, Second Edition

Building on the success of The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, the Second Edition offers more material and makes it far more accessible.  New discoveries by the Papers of Abraham Lincoln have expanded our knowledge of Abraham Lincoln's legal career.

In addition to including all of the documents and data from the Complete Documentary Edition, the Second Edition presents an additional 45 cases, 12 non-litigation activities, and nearly 1,300 documents.

Rather than looking through document images on three DVD-ROMs, users may now freely view the images over the Internet.  More than 1,500 of the documents from the Complete Documentary Edition are now reproduced in color, making them more legible than ever before.

Explore The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln, Second Edition

 

The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition

Complete EditionThe culmination of more than 15 years of research, this three-volume DVD-ROM edition contains more than 5,600 cases and legal matters, nearly 100,000 documents with nearly 250,000 pages, and a comprehensive reference section.

The publication makes available for the first time the full documentation of the cases and legal actions in which Lincoln participated.

Users can search for cases by case name, participant, date, court, legal action, subject; or documents by document type, date, author or signer.

This edition allows researchers to study Lincoln's development as a lawyer, trace the formation of the court system in the Midwest, research legal history and the development of law, and discover antebellum social history through court records.

Selective Edition

The Papers of Abraham Lincoln: Legal Documents and CasesSelective Edition

Available from the University of Virginia Press

Received Book of the Year Award from Illinois State Historical Society!

The culmination of eight years of editorial work, the four volumes of The Papers of Abraham Lincoln: Legal Documents and Cases present a representative assortment of Lincoln's most important and most interesting cases in a form that both scholars and general readers can most readily and profitably use. Through authoritative transcriptions and contextual annotations, the editors make it possible for serious readers to examine both the documents and the cases in their historical and legal contexts. This edition serves as both an introduction to the Complete Documentary Edition and a substantial documentary text in its own right.

At the heart of The Papers of Abraham Lincoln: Legal Documents and Cases are forty-nine presentations of individual cases, two "tours" with Lincoln on his semi-annual trip around the judicial circuit, one term of Lincoln's practice in his home county of Sangamon, and three topical chapters. The circuit tours and Sangamon County chapter will allow readers to understand the cadence of Lincoln's law practice as he moved rapidly from criminal cases to debt cases to divorce cases in a single courthouse before moving to the next county seat and a new set of legal issues and litigants. Topical chapters will cover Lincoln's non-litigation or office practice, his advice on being a lawyer, and his experience in several official court roles (judge, state's attorney, juror, commissioner, etc.).  In addition to contextual introductions and annotation for each case, The Papers of Abraham Lincoln: Legal Documents and Cases includes a historical introduction, appendices on the structure of Illinois and federal court systems and on nineteenth-century pleading and practice, a biographical directory with brief sketches of individuals associated with Lincoln's law practice, a glossary of legal terms, and an extensive index for the four volumes.