James, Benjamin F.

Born: 1820-XX-XX Massachusetts

Flourished: Tremont, Illinois

James was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1841. Abraham Lincoln and Albert T. Bledsoe were on the committee that examined him for admission. In 1842, he married Almira H. Flagler in Peoria County, Illinois. James practiced law in Tremont, Illinois, and he became one of Lincoln's closest friends on the Eighth Judicial Circuit, participating in numerous court cases with and against Lincoln. He also became involved in Whig politics, becoming editor of the Tazewell Whig. James used his newspaper to help Lincoln secure the Whig nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1846. In 1846, James served as school commissioner for Tazewell County, and in November 1849, he became the first county judge elected under the new Illinois State Constitution. By 1860 he was living and practicing law in Chicago, and owned real estate valued at $25,000 and had a personal estate of $3,000. He supported Lincoln in the presidential election of 1860, and Lincoln rewarded James by appointing him an examiner at the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, DC. James retained this position until the end of the Civil War.

Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, Peoria County, 1 January 1842, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; Roy P. Basler et al., eds., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 4:103; John J. Duff, A. Lincoln: Prairie Lawyer (New York: Bramhall House, 1960), 295; Guy C. Fraker, Lincoln's Ladder to the Presidency: The Eighth Judicial Circuit (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 2012), 56, 144, 249; For James' cases with Lincoln, search "James, Benjamin F.," 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; Tazewell Whig (Tremont, IL), 18 July 1846, 1:1; History of Tazewell County Illinois (Chicago: Chas. C. Chapman, 1879), 300; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Tazewell County, IL, 48; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Ward 8, Chicago, Cook County, IL, 92; Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1861 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1862), 80; Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1865 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1866), 129.