— Looking for Lincoln —
Champaign County was always on Lincoln's circuit. Abraham Lincoln spent nearly 20 years of his life practicing law on the 8th Judicial Circuit, traveling from one county seat to another. Even as the circuit shrank while population grew (from 8 counties in 1841 to 15 counties in 1845 to 8 in 1853 to 5 in 1857) the county seat of Urbana in Champaign County was always on Lincoln's circuit. Each fall and spring, Lincoln traveled the dusty roads, on horseback or by carriage from Decatur to Urbana to Danville often with a group of lawyers and a judge assisting in whatever civil and criminal cases were before the court.
Lincoln unsuccessfully defended the first person accused of murder in Champaign County. Ironically, the defendant escaped shortly after the trial. He defended the interests of the Illinois Central Railroad at the Urbana courthouse. All the while Lincoln was becoming a familiar face in the county and a friend to many early residents.
Lincoln not only practiced law, he also politicked in Champaign County when he heard about the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, and spoke against it. Lincoln spoke for Fremont (in his presidential campaign against Buchanan) at an all day rally in Urbana. In his famous senatorial campaign against Stephen Douglas, Lincoln gave an impassioned defense of his "House Divided" speech at the county courthouse. Douglas had spoken on the last day of the county fair, September 23, 1858. Although the fair was over, Lincoln spoke the next day to nearly as many people. Enthusiast escorted Lincoln in a full-scale parade from the Doane House to the fairgrounds to the courthouse. By the 1860 Presidential election, all townships, save Stanton, would vote for Lincoln.