Born: 1784-01-05 Louisville, Kentucky
Died: 1850-01-22 Saint Louis, Missouri
Pope attended Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky in 1802, but left before completing the course. He subsequently read law in the office of his brother John Pope, a future Kentucky state senator, United States representative, United States senator, and territorial governor of Arkansas. Nathaniel Pope joined the bar in 1804 and practiced law in Ste. Genevieve, Louisiana Territory (Missouri), and Kaskaskia, Indiana Territory (Illinois), before accepting an appointment as secretary of the newly formed Illinois Territory in 1809. His cousin Ninian Edwards became its territorial governor. In 1809, Pope married Lucretia Backus, with whom he had six children, including John Pope, a Union general during the Civil War. In 1815, Pope made a lasting contribution to the Illinois Territory by compiling and codifying the statutory and common law used in the Territory in his
Paul M. Angle, “Nathaniel Pope, 1784-1850: A Memoir,” Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society 43 (1936): 111-81; Robert M. Sutton, "Pope, Nathaniel," American National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 17:677-78; Elizabeth Breckenridge Ellis, "Pope, Nathaniel," Dictionary of American Biography (New York: Charles Scribner’s & Sons, 1964), 8:1:77-78; John Palmer, ed., The Bench and Bar of Illinois: Historical and Reminiscent (Chicago: Lewis, 1899), 2:640-42; For material on Lincoln's cases before Pope, see search for "Pope, Nathaniel," 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/Search.aspx. Illustration courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL.