Eighth Judicial Circuit (Illinois)

State: Illinois

In 1839, during Abraham Lincoln's tenure, the Illinois General Assembly reorganized the state into nine judicial circuits. The new Eighth Judicial Circuit included the central Illinois counties of Christian, DeWitt, Livingston, Logan, Macon, McLean, Menard, Sangamon, and Tazewell. The population of this circuit was concentrated in Springfield and Sangamon County.

The legislature reorganized the state's judicial circuits again in 1841, and the Eighth Judicial Circuit then consisted of Champaign, Christian, DeWitt, Livingston, Logan, Macon, Mason, McLean, Menard, Piatt, Sangamon, Shelby, Tazewell, and Woodford counties. This circuit, which remained a central Illinois circuit, became the important base of Lincoln's law practice for the next eighteen years. Although the boundaries of the Eighth Judicial Circuit slightly changed and shrunk over time, the population remained concentrated in Springfield until 1857, when the legislature moved Sangamon County to the newly created Eighteenth Judicial Circuit.

An Act Dividing the State into Judicial Circuits; An Act for the Formation of De Witt County; An Act to Establish Circuit Courts; An Act for the Formation of the County of Woodford; "An Act to Establish the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit," 11 February 1857, Laws of Illinois (1857), 14; Maps of the Eighth Judicial Circuit, Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds. The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, 2d edition (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009), http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Reference.aspx?ref=Reference%20html%20files/index%20for%20maps.html.