Clinton in Dewitt County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Warner's Memories / Lawyers and Book Lovers
—Looking for Lincoln —
Lincoln traveled the Eighth Judicial Circuit six months a year, becoming close friends with his fellow lawyers, with whom he shared, not only courtroom, but also meals, an easy camaraderie, and often a room. “In my opinion, Lincoln was happy - - as happy as he could be, when on this Circuit - - and happy no other place. This was his place of enjoyment, “sad David Davis, the judge who presided over the circuit. Davis; also Lincoln’s campaign manager, and Ward Hill Lamon were instrumental in orchestrating Lincoln’s Presidential nomination. Davis managed to have the Republican Convention located in Illinois, and Lamon printed up counterfeit tickets in order to pack the hall with Lincoln supporters.
Lincoln, Judge David Davis, and Ward Hill Lamon, a Danville lawyer and a great bear of a man, were visiting one evening on the porch of the Barnett Tavern (a term used then for an inn, not a saloon) while young Vespasian “Pash” Warner listened. Lamon suggested making a trip across the square to the grocery (then a term for a place that sold liquor, not food) to obtain some whiskey. Davis objected, reminding Lamon that only the week before in Mt. Pulaski, Davis had found it necessary
Lincoln pointed out that Davis often allowed a first offender in the courtroom a second chance and asked that he give Lamon the same consideration. Davis relented. Lamon returned with a pitcher of whiskey, and the three retired upstairs to Lamon’s room to continue their discussions, leaving the boy behind. Lincoln never drank but often enjoyed the company of others who did. Lamon became one of Lincoln’s staunchest supporters and accompanied him as his bodyguard on his journey to Washington, D. C., when Lincoln was elected President.
Vespasian Warner, named after a Roman emperor, was a toddler when his father, Dr. John Warner, moved from Mt. Pleasant (now Farmer City) to Clinton in 1842. To supplement his budding medical practice, Dr. Warner and his wife, with Harry P. Merriman, ran a hotel on the west side of the square. There, the Eighth Judicial Circuit lawyers paid $1.50 for a week’s food and lodging.
The doctor prospered, gave up the hotel, building the first brick residence in Clinton across the street from the Barnett Tavern, located a block south of the square. Vespasian Warner said of this time when he was an adolescent, “Being young and curious, I would hang around the tavern in the evenings, as long
“The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is a man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read,” said Abraham Lincoln when he was about ten years old. Lincoln, who was known to be awkward around the gentler sex, bound he was comfortable discussing books with Mary Todd, a woman also interested in the “unfeminine” world of politics. One of her attractions for Lincoln was their shared love of Shakespeare and poetry, both of which he would quote at length. As President, his favorite form of relaxation was reading aloud from his favorite books to friends, and he usually carried one or two to share with fellow travelers.
Abraham Lincoln had a hunger for books, which began when he was only a boy. He said that he read all the books he could lay his hands on within thirty miles of his boyhood home in Indiana. Neighbors remembered he would walk miles to borrow a book. According to Dennis Hanks, Lincoln’s cousin and best friend, when Lincoln went out to plow a field, he put a book under his shirt and read at the end of rows when the horses were resting. Hanks added,
Later, living in New Salem, Lincoln taught himself law from books he walked fourteen miles to Springfield to borrow, often absorbing thirty to forty pages on the way home. In fact, Lincoln was the first person to check out a book from the Illinois State Library in Springfield, which opened in December 1839 in a thirty-by-forty-foot room next to the Secretary of State’s office. As President, he was a frequent patron of the Library of Congress.
Lincoln met a kindred soul in Clinton’s first resident lawyer, C. H. Moore, a great lover of books who owned the largest private library in downstate Illinois during the nineteenth century. Before his death, Moore commissioned an architect to draw up plans for a public library. His son-in-law and law partner, Congressman Vespasian Warner, donated funds and land to make Moore’s dream come true.
The Vespasian Warner Public Library, including the C. H. Moore Rare Book Collection, opened in 1908, and today remains the repository for more than 5,000 volumes of Moore’s collection. Among its highlights is a book bearing Lincoln’s handwriting, presented to his friend C. H. Moore shortly before Lincoln left Illinois to assume the office of President. Vespasian Warner later built
Erected 2009 by Vespasian Warner Public Library District, Lincoln Heritage of DeWitt County.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Looking for Lincoln marker series.
Location. 40° 9.319′ N, 88° 57.678′ W. Marker is in Clinton, Illinois, in Dewitt County. Marker is on West Johnson Street west of North Center Street, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. located at (back parking area - Johnson Street) North/East corner of the Vespasian Warner Public Library. Marker is in this post office area: Clinton IL 61727, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Lincoln's Hat (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Lincoln and The Law (about 600 feet away); “You can fool all the people part of the time . . .” (approx. 0.2 miles away); Lincoln at Work and Play (approx. 0.2 miles away); DeWitt County War Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); Abraham Lincoln - Eighth Judicial District Lincoln's Friends and Foes (approx. 0.2 miles away); Humorous Moments (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Clinton.
Also see . . .
1. 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 Judicial District (of Illinois) during 1847-1857. Use the “First >>” button in the upper right to see these markers in sequence, starting from Springfield. (Submitted on November 10, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
2. 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 November 10, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
3. Looking for Lincoln::. Many resources for the Tracking of Lincoln through History and Illinois. Aimed at all ages. (Submitted on November 10, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
Categories. • Education • Notable Places •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 10, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. This page has been viewed 1,735 times since then and 57 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. submitted on November 10, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. 15, 16. submitted on February 3, 2011, by Christie Lyons of Clinton, Illinois. 17, 18, 19, 20, 21. submitted on November 10, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.