Bloomington in McLean County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Lincoln The Lawyer
"A Rustic on his First Visit"
— Looking for Lincoln —
“A rustic on his first visit to the circus” is how John W. Baddeley, an English immigrant farmer described Abraham Lincoln on his first visit to the McLean County Courthouse as a young attorney in the summer of 1837. Lincoln was wearing “ill-fitting homespun clothes, the trousers a little too short, and the coat a trifle too large.” Baddeley summarily dismissed the “country bumpkin” lawyer who had been sent by his senior partner, John Todd Stuart, to represent the Englishman. Despite this initial reaction, Lincoln later represented Baddeley in numerous matters. Lincoln appeared often at the courthouse as an attorney and as a political speaker. Undoubtedly, his best-known appearance in the courthouse was as the victorious attorney in The Illinois Central Rail Road v. McLean County case (1853). In a landmark decision, the Illinois Supreme Court, on appeal, ruled the Illinois General Assembly had the constitutional right to exempt the railroad’s property from taxation. Called by his partner, William H. Herndon, their “most important case,” the two attorneys divided the $5,000 fee equally between them.
On Sunday, April 16, 1865, following numerous funeral sermons in the city’s churches, one of the largest crowds gathered on the courthouse lawn to mourn the death of President Lincoln. Journalist Ida Tarbell observed: “Elsewhere it was only a President, a national leader, who had been lost; here it was a personal friend, and people refused to be comforted.... people gathered in the yard about the court-house, where for years they had been accustomed to see Lincoln coming and going. ...” Two weeks later, crowds gathered along the Chicago and Alton Rail Road line to pay homage to the dead President as the Lincoln Funeral passed through Bloomington on its way to Springfield and Lincoln’s final resting place.
Erected 2008 by Looking for Lincoln Heritage Commission and the City of Bloomington.
Topics and series. This Government & Politics • Heroes. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Looking for Lincoln series lists. A significant historical date for this entry is April 16, 1864.
Location. 40° 28.785′ N, 88° 59.613′ W. Marker is in Bloomington, Illinois, in McLean County. Marker is on North Main Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 200 North Main Street, Bloomington IL 61701, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Phoenix Block (a few steps from this marker); World War II War Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Sigmund Livingston (within shouting distance of this marker); Abraham Lincoln - Eighth Judicial District (within shouting distance of this marker); Phoenix Hall (within shouting distance of this marker); Risk of the Road (within shouting distance of this marker); Center Street Site (within shouting distance of this marker); The Dewenter's Building (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bloomington.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 11, 2021. It was originally submitted on October 11, 2008, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. This page has been viewed 2,024 times since then and 38 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on October 11, 2008, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. 4. submitted on July 9, 2021, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. 5. submitted on September 6, 2021, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. 6, 7, 8. submitted on October 11, 2008, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. 9. submitted on October 13, 2008, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.