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[Detail] Lincoln Centennial Association

Lincoln’s Illinois Years

Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809, in Kentucky. His family suffered financial setbacks and moved to Indiana in 1816. Abraham was rarely able to attend school, instead working on his family farm. In 1830, the family once again moved, this time to Illinois.

In 1832, Lincoln briefly served in the militia during the Black Hawk War, but did not take part in any actual fighting. That same year saw his first run for public office; he failed as a Whig candidate for the Illinois House of Representatives. His second try in 1834 was successful, and he won three additional terms to the Illinois House. In the early 1830s, he also began studying law on his own, borrowing law books from a lawyer to read at night; he was admitted to the bar in 1837. He moved to Springfield and set up a law practice, which often involved traveling on horseback from county to county.

Use the Browse by Subject feature to locate records from some of Abraham Lincoln’s legal cases. Find records related to at least three different types of cases.

  • What kinds of cases did he handle?
  • What similarities do you see between the cases Lincoln handled in his career and cases today? What differences do you see? What, if anything, do these cases tell you about the legal profession at the time?