Stuart & Lincoln

City: Springfield

County: Sangamon

State: Illinois

The legal partnership of John T. Stuart & Abraham Lincoln began in the spring of 1837, when Lincoln moved to Springfield to practice law. Stuart was mainly interested in politics and gave Lincoln little legal instruction. Consequently, Lincoln had to learn the practice of law by trying cases in court. When Stuart was serving in Congress, he left Lincoln in Springfield to handle the legal business alone. Stuart and Lincoln's practice consisted primarily of debt-related matters in the various courts in which they practiced. They also handled a variety of legal actions in the criminal, common law, and chancery divisions of law. Stuart and Lincoln both traveled the First Judicial Circuit. When Sangamon County became part of the newly formed Eighth Judicial Circuit in 1839, Lincoln began to ride that circuit. Stuart and Lincoln concentrated their legal practice in Sangamon, Tazewell, Logan, and McLean counties, but they handled cases elsewhere as well. The Stuart & Lincoln law office was in an upstairs room along Hoffman's Row, a group of buildings on Fifth Street in Springfield, one block north of the public square. As part of their office work, Stuart and Lincoln kept an office fee book as a record of their legal fees from handling cases and nonlitigation activities. According to entries in their fee book, Stuart and Lincoln generally received $5 to $10 for legal fees, but in People v. Truett, an 1838 murder case, they received $500. Stuart and Lincoln generally divided fees equally. Stuart left Springfield to serve a second term in Congress, and on April 14, 1841, he and Lincoln dissolved their legal partnership.

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 html files/NarrativeOverview.html.