In force, Feb.[February] 23, 1839.
AN ACT dividing the State into judicial circuits.1
Sec. [Section]1. Be in enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
represented in the General Assembly, That from and after the passage of this act, the judicial circuits of this State shall be composed of the counties following:
The counties of Morgan, Cass, Pike, Calhoun, Green, Scott,2 and Macoupin, shall compose the first circuit.3
The counties of Adams, Hancock, Warren, Mercer, Knox, Fulton, Schuyler, Brown, and McDonough, shall compose the fifth circuit.
The counties of Jo Daviess, Stephenson, Boone, Winnebago, Whiteside, Rock Island, and Carroll, shall compose the sixth circuit.4
The counties of Sangamon, Macon, McLean, Tazewell, Menard, Logan, Dane, and Livingston, shall compose the eighth circuit.7
The counties of Peoria, Putnam, Marshall, Kane, De Kalb, Bureau, Henry, Ogle, and La Salle, shall compose the ninth circuit.8
Sec. 2. The eighth and ninth circuits are hereby created and established as additional circuits to those heretofore provided for by law.
Judges to be appointed.
Term of office.
Sec. 3. There shall be appointed, by joint ballot of both branches of the General Assembly, during the present session, one circuit judge for the ninth circuit, and one circuit judge for the eighth circuit, created by this act, who shall be commissioned by the Governor as circuit judges of this State, and shall hold their offices during good behaviour, who shall be vested with all the powers conferred, and required to perform all the duties imposed upon circuit judges of this State.9
Judges assigned to circuits.
2d, 3d, and 4th circuits.
Sec. 4. The judges of the fifth, sixth, and seventh circuits, heretofore appointed and assigned to said circuits, shall preside and hold the courts in the counties of which said circuits are composed, as arranged by this act, and the counties composing the second, third, and fourth circuits, shall remain as heretofore provided by law. 10
Approved, February 23, 183911.
1On January 24, 1839, Senator James Turney of the Committee on the Judiciary introducedSB 134 in the Senate. On January 25, the bill was referred to a select committee. On February 7, the select committee reported the bill with several amendments, which the Senate adopted. Senator William H. Davidson then moved to amend the bill by striking any language that would alter the Fourth Judicial Circuit, which the Senate adopted. The Senate then agreed to a motion by Senator William Thomas that the last two votes be reconsidered. Thomas then moved to amend the bill by striking all of the language except the language dealing with the First, Third, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth judicial circuits. The Senate agreed to the amended language by a vote of 29 yeas to 11 nays. The Senate then agreed to the select committee’s amendments by a vote of 29 yeas to 11 nays. On February 9, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 21 yeas to 14 nays. On February 19, the House of Representatives took up the bill and agreed to the following amendments: Gholson Kercheval’s amendment to move Kane County from the Seventh to the Ninth Judicial Circuit; John J. Hardin’s amendment to add Scott County to the First Judicial Circuit; Abraham Lincoln’s amendment to add Menard, Logan, and Dane counties to the Eighth Judicial Circuit; James Craig’s amendment to add Carroll County to the Sixth Judicial Circuit; and Joseph Naper’s amendment to add Du Page County to the Seventh Judicial Circuit. On February 21, the Committee on the Judiciary reported the bill with several amendments. The House proceeded to vote on these new amendments, written by Lincoln, as follows: The House adopted his first amendment to move Ogle County from the Sixth to the Ninth Judicial Circuit; but then rejected his second and third amendments by a vote of 13 yeas to 52 nays, with Lincoln voting yea. These last two failed amendments would have switched the names of the First and Eighth Judicial Circuits, making Lincoln’s home circuit, where he lived and practiced law, the First Judicial Circuit. The House, on motion of Archibald Williams, struck out the third section of the bill, which had assigned the judge of the First Judicial Circuit to the Eighth. Jonas Rawalt moved to amend the first section of the bill by taking Fulton County off the Fifth Judicial Circuit and inserting Henry County. In addition, Rawalt removed Henry County from the Ninth Judicial Circuit and inserted Fulton County before Peoria County on that circuit. On February 22, Rawalt withdrew his motion to amend the bill. The House then voted 19 yeas to 59 nays, with Lincoln voting nay, against the motion of Edward D. Baker to lay the bill on the table. The House then agreed to an amendment by Hardin to insert in the fourth line of the bill after the word “circuit,” language called for one circuit judge for the Eight Judicial Circuit. On February 22, the House passed the bill. On February 23, the Senate agreed to the House amendments, and the Council of Revision approved the bill and the act became law.
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 376, 442-443, 472, 474, 481-482, 489, 491; Illinois Senate Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 220, 226, 286, 290-291, 304-305, 387, 388, 393.
2On February 19, the House passed Hardin’s amendment, which added Scott to the bill.
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 442.
3The counties of the Second, Third, and Fourth judicial circuits remained the same, per an 1835 act that created six judicial circuits.
4On February 19, the House adopted Craig’s amendment to place Carroll County in the Sixth Judicial Circuit; and on February 21, the House adopted Lincoln’s amendment to move Ogle County to the Ninth Judicial Circuit instead of the Sixth, where it was listed in the bill.
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 443, 474.
6In the original bill, Kane County was in the Seventh Judicial Circuit and Du Page County was not. On February 19, the House adopted Kercheval’s and Naper’s amendments to make those changes.
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 442-43.
7Amending the original bill, the House voted to accept Lincoln’s amendment to add Menard, Logan, and Dane counties to the Eighth Judicial Circuit.
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 443.
8The House changed the original bill by adopting Lincoln’s amendment to add Ogle County and Gholson’s amendment to add Kane County to the Ninth Judicial Circuit.
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 442-43, 474.
9On February 20, 1839, the House elected William Thomas as judge of the First Judicial Circuit; and Governor Thomas Carlin appointed Samuel H. Treat as judge of the Eight Judicial Circuit.
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 466; John Palmer, ed., The Bench and Bar of Illinois: Historical and Reminiscent (Chicago: Lewis Publishing, 1899), 1:34.
10At that time, Sidney Breese presided over the Second Judicial Circuit, Walter B. Scates presided over the Third, Justin Harlan over the Fourth; James H. Ralton over the Fifth; Dan Stone over the Sixth; and John Pearson over the Seventh
“An Act Supplemental to the Several Acts Regulating the Supreme and Circuit Courts of This State,” approved 16 February 1831, The Laws of Illinois (1831), 45; Illinois House Journal. 1834. 9th G. A., 1 sess., 293; Illinois House Journal. 1836. 10th G. A., 1 sess., 71, 506, 537, 854.
11These new judicial circuit court divisions would stand until 1841, when the legislature reorganized the circuits, responding once again to continued population growth and changing distributions of people across the rapidly developing state.
Printed Document, 2 page(s),
Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Eleventh General Assembly (Vandalia, IL: William Walters, 1839), 155-56, GA Session: 11-1,