Lincoln & Herndon

City: Springfield

County: Sangamon

State: Illinois

In December 1844, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen T. Logan dissolved their law partnership, and Lincoln took on William H. Herndon as his junior partner. After returning from his single term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Lincoln increased the amount of time he spent traveling the judicial circuit; after 1849, he was the only attorney aside from the state's attorney who traveled the entire circuit of fourteen counties. By the end of the 1850s, railroads had become a popular mode of transportation, and Lincoln was able to travel to each of the county seats by rail. In contrast, Herndon mainly traveled to neighboring counties around Sangamon County, maintaining a large and steady practice in Menard County. Lincoln continued to handle a large number of cases before the Illinois Supreme Court during the first few years of his partnership with Herndon. After 1849, the Illinois Supreme Court held court at three different locations: Ottawa, Springfield, and Mt. Vernon. Lincoln maintained his appellate practice in Springfield and occasionally traveled to Ottawa for a Supreme Court session.

The firm was active through Lincoln's nomination for president in May 1860. He continued to handle several cases during the summer term of the federal court in Springfield. It is unlikely that he represented any more clients after the summer. In November 1860, Lincoln won the election for the presidency. During the winter, he wrapped up his legal business with Herndon, and left for Washington in February 1861. According to Herndon, Lincoln wanted the partnership sign to hang undisturbed and "give our clients to understand that the election of a President makes no change in the firm of Lincoln and Herndon." He told Herndon that if he returned, he wanted to resume their practice of law "as if nothing had ever happened."

"The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: A Narrative Overview," 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), html files/NarrativeOverview.html.