Lincoln's Law Practice

Lincoln's Law Practice (HMRMI)

Location: Mt Pulaski, IL 62548 Logan County
Country: United States of America

N 40° 0.546', W 89° 17.113'

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Inscription
Lincoln illustrator Lloyd Ostendorf imagined this scene in connection with Mt. Pulaski's "cast iron tombstone" case that Lincoln handled on appeal in the Illinois Supreme Court in Springfield (1859). Two local residents separately sued Reuben Miller for fraudulently selling them rights to an iron tombstone patent that they later decided was "frivolous and of no benefit to society." Judge David Davis rendered a verdict against Miller here in the trial court. But in Springfield, Lincoln succeeded in getting the Supreme Court to send the case back for retrial. The case dragged on for years-returning two more times to the Supreme Court. It was not finally resolved until after Lincoln became president. Miller ultimately lost.

Fire destroyed most of the court records pertaining to attorney Abraham Lincoln's Mt. Pulaski legal practice. The records perished when the recently-completed Logan County courthouse in Lincoln burned down in 1857. Most of what is known of Lincoln's legal practice in Mt. Pulaski comes from Illinois State Supreme Court records in Springfield—-which usually include information about trial proceedings that transpired here in the courtroom before the cases were appealed. In two of Lincoln's more important local cases he opposed his former law partners Stephen T. Logan and John Todd Stuart. When Mt. Pulaski replaced Postville as the county seat. Postville land owners hired Logan and Stuart to recover the value of land they had donated to the county. Lincoln successfully defended the county by demonstrating that Postville men had been fairly compensated. A few years later, when the new city of Lincoln became county seat, mt. Pulaski hired Lincoln's old partners and sued the county to prevent the change. Lincoln defended the county and won again.

The "Horological Cradle" case was one of the stranger cases that lawyer Lincoln handled in Mt. Pulaski. At issue was a land swap for a patent on a mechanical cradle touted by Springfield newspapers as "a wonder of the age," that "no mother should be without." Once wound up, the cradle rocked itself freeing mothers to pursue other chores. Lincoln sued the local "inventor" on behalf of local patent purchasers who discovered that the patent covered only the cradle's ornamentation, not its mechanical design. Lincoln thoroughly enjoyed demonstrating the mechanics of the cradle to a courtroom of amused onlookers. But the contraption reportedly confused Judge David Davis, who supposedly asked how one could stop it from rocking. It's like some of the glib talkers you and I know, Judge," Lincoln explained, it won't stop until it runs down."

Details
HM NumberHMRMI
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
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Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, September 25th, 2014 at 2:52am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16T E 304951 N 4431268
Decimal Degrees40.00910000, -89.28521667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 0.546', W 89° 17.113'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 0' 32.76" N, 89° 17' 6.78" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 100-198 S Washington St, Mt Pulaski IL 62548, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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