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Decatur in Macon County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Lincoln on the Circuit

Looking for Lincoln

 
 
Lincoln on the Circuit Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, October 10, 2021
1. Lincoln on the Circuit Marker
Inscription.  The second courthouse was an imposing structure far that time. Located on the southeast corner of Main and Main, it stood over forty feet tall, was made entirely of brick, and had a cupola for the courthouse bell. When not in use as a courthouse, it served as the center of Decatur's civic activities. The courthouse eventually became too small to handle the increasing needs of the growing community, so it was torn down.

Much of Abraham Lincoln's legal career on the Eighth Circuit concerned matters of routine court sessions and proceedings. When Lincoln would come to Decatur, he would not generally know what kind of cases he could be facing. He was occasionally involved in the more sensational cases, including assault and battery; divorce; slander, gambling; and murder. Most of Lincoln's cases while practicing on the Circuit involved the repayment of debts, or debt-related questions. For Central Illinois was like most of the rest of the nation during its early development in that “hard money” or specie was generally difficult to obtain for the average citizen. In later years, after Lincoln had made a name for himself in
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the legal profession, he was approached by a young man who wanted to be a law clerk for Lincoln. In declining the young man's offer, Lincoln had written back with the advice that to be a good lawyer the man would need to remember: “Work, work, work, is the main thing.”

While people recognize that Abraham Lincoln rode the Eighth Judicial Circuit for much of his legal career, most do not realize that the Eighth Circuit was not the first Circuit that he traveled on. That distinction goes to the First Judicial Circuit. This Circuit was composed from ten original counties, of which Macon County was one, This was the Circuit that Lincoln was a part of when he first practiced law in Decatur. It was also the Circuit where he practiced in the old log courthouse on the southwest corner of Main and Main in May 1838. A few weeks later, the County had finished erecting a brand new brick courthouse. By March of 1839, increased populations had added the need to form a new circuit court, and the Eighth Judicial Circuit was created.
 
Erected by Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition • City of Decatur, Lincoln Heritage Development.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureLaw Enforcement.
Lincoln on the Circuit Marker detail image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, October 10, 2021
2. Lincoln on the Circuit Marker detail
The brick Macon County Courthouse (right), erected in 1838.
In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Looking for Lincoln series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is May 1838.
 
Location. 39° 50.48′ N, 88° 57.345′ W. Marker is in Decatur, Illinois, in Macon County. Marker is at the intersection of East Main Street and South Main Street (Business U.S. 51), on the right when traveling east on East Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 122 S Main St, Decatur IL 62523, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Coming to Illinois (a few steps from this marker); Lincoln's First Speech (within shouting distance of this marker); Let Us All Be United (within shouting distance of this marker); Macon County's First Court House (within shouting distance of this marker); Abraham Lincoln's First Political Speech (within shouting distance of this marker); Choosing a President (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Wake Up, Lincoln! (about 300 feet away); Finding the Biggest Man (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Decatur.
 
Lincoln on the Circuit Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, October 10, 2021
3. Lincoln on the Circuit Marker
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 14, 2021. It was originally submitted on October 14, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 148 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on October 14, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

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Feb. 24, 2024