Pontiac in Livingston County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Lincoln Wins His Case
—Looking for Lincoln —
Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas were opposing attorneys during Livingston County’s first regular term of circuit court, which was held on this site May 18 and 19, 1840, in Henry Weed’s log cabin. In the first lawsuit filed in the county. Lincoln served as attorney for William Popejoy, Jr., who was asking $2,000 damages for defamation of character. Popejoy claimed Isaac Wilson had publicly accused him of stealing meat from Sarah McDowell. Stephen A. Douglas represented Wilson. Lincoln won the case, but the damages were greatly reduced on appeal. The judge and attorneys, including David Davis, a twenty-five-year-old attorney from Bloomington, had come across the prairie in buggies and on horseback. Lincoln, on horseback, was drenched to the skin by a late spring shower. The jury held its deliberations on a pile of saw-logs on the banks of the river; and, afterward, standing on a dry goods box, Lincoln, then thirty-one, and Douglas, twenty-seven, debated political issues of the day to an attentive audience.
Court was held in a twenty-two by twenty-foot room on the upper floor of the Weed cabin, the first cabin in Pontiac Township. It was built in 1833 by Weed and his brothers-in-law, Lucius and Seth Young, for themselves and their families. When
Weed contracted with John Foster to build the first courthouse before leaving the county in 1839. The Young brothers had died in 1837. Foster leased the Weed cabin to the county, and, later on this site, kept the first hotel, providing rooms for the judge, attorneys, juries, and litigants. He often entertained Lincoln and Douglas as they traveled the circuit with the portly Judge David Davis. The hotel was not luxurious. Lawyers slept two to a bed, and two or three beds were located in one room. Davis, because of his weight, slept alone; but one night the bed collapsed under him, and he had to be rescued from the debris of the destroyed bed. During one term of court, Lincoln paid his hotel bill by attending to a suit in which Foster was concerned.
Erected 2008 by The City of Pontiac.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Looking for Lincoln marker series.
Location. 40° 52.784′ N, 88° 37.641′ W. Marker is in Pontiac, Illinois, in Livingston Click for map. Marker is located across the street from the "First United Methodist Church". Marker is in this post office area: Pontiac IL 61764, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Pontiac (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Civil War Memorial - Livingston County Illinois (about 400 feet away); Jones House (about 500 feet away); County Seat Almost Moved (about 500 feet away); Desert Storm - War Memorial (about 600 feet away); W. W. II War Memorial - Livingston County Illinois (about 600 feet away); W. W. I War Memorial - Livingston County Illinois (about 600 feet away); Livingston County War Memorial (about 600 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Pontiac.
Also see . . .
1. Visit Pontiac::. This web link has a number of links to other historic items in Pontiac, Illinois. Informative and very helpful. (Submitted on April 11, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
2. Travel with Lincoln ::. Climb into Lincoln’s buggy and take a trip with Lincoln and his fellow lawyers on the job traveling Illinois as Circuit Lawyers. See all the Lincoln Circuit Markers (and a surprise or two), in the order of his travels while a member of the Circuit of the Eighth (Submitted on April 11, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
3. Looking for Lincoln Video - on P. B. S. Follow Henry Louis Gates, Jr. "...from Illinois, to Gettysburg, to Washington, D. C., and face to face with people who live with Lincoln every day..." (Submitted on April 11, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
4. Looking for Lincoln::. Many resources for the Tracking of Lincoln through History and Illinois. Aimed at all ages. (Submitted on April 11, 2010, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
Categories. • Notable Events •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. This page has been viewed 660 times since then and 56 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on , by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.