Famous Lawyer: Abraham Lincoln

President Abraham Lincoln is arguably one of the most recognizable Presidents of the United States. As the 16th president, he served at a very volatile and important time in the nation’s history. His life, and his death, are often discussed and well known topics. What people may be less familiar with is his career choices before becoming the president. In Lincoln’s early years he worked as a lawyer, protecting the rights of others under the law. Although he is often referred to as a “Country Lawyer,” Lincoln was, in actuality, a highly respected attorney. Although he naturally did not win all of his cases, he had garnered a respectable number of wins during the course of his career.

  • Lincoln taught himself principles of law.
  • Lincoln was able to become a lawyer courtesy of a 1833 Illinois law that said that a person could become a lawyer if a certificate was “procured from the court of Illinois county certifying to the applicant’s good moral character.”
  • Lincoln practiced law for 23 years.
  • Before starting his own practice, he was a junior attorney for two other firms.
  • As a lawyer, Lincoln tried more than 1,000 jury cases.
  • Lincoln represented a case before the Supreme Court; however, he lost after two days of hearings and following deliberations that took five days.
  • During the 1850s Lincoln had several cases involving the railroad industry.
  • Lincoln used an Almanac to solve his most famous case, which was known as the Almanac Trial.

Abraham Lincoln Biography: The Biography channel covers the life of Abraham Lincoln from childhood to the Civil War. The page includes a section on his law career and includes a video of his life.

Lincoln: Lawyer Before President: Read about Lincoln’s early life and how his career as an attorney eventually helped him in his bid for the presidency.

Abraham Lincoln: Both a video and an article on the life of Abraham Lincoln can be found on this History channel page.

Abe Lincoln, Country Lawyer: This is an article that discusses Lincoln’s return to being a “country lawyer” following the election of President Zachary Taylor and his turn in Congress.

Abraham Lincoln as a Railroad Attorney: A PDF that discusses Lincoln’s life as a (lawyer) and how it intersected the railroad industry.

Ten Facts About Abraham Lincoln: Discover ten facts regarding the life of Abraham Lincoln on the Civil War Trust website. The facts are listed in a numbered format and each is very detailed.

Five Myths About Abraham Lincoln: Five myths regarding Abraham Lincoln are listed on this page of the Washington Post. Readers will find that there are two pages to this article.

Abraham Lincoln, True Crime Writer: The Smithsonian website features an article about one of Lincoln’s most unusual cases. This is a three page article.

Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life: People can read about the extraordinary life led by President Lincoln before and during his presidency. The information on this page includes hid life in court as an attorney.

American President: A Reference Resource: Lincoln’s life prior to becoming the President is the topic of discussion on this Miller Center web page. The information discussed includes his political ambitions, risks, moves, and even his limited racial equality beliefs.

Abraham Lincoln, Attorney at Law: Clicking on this link will open a web page that includes a PBS Learning video on Abraham Lincoln as an Attorney at Law.

The Abraham Lincoln You Don’t Know: This page includes a list things that people commonly known about Lincoln, followed by a list of things that people are less likely to know about his early life.

Lincoln the Lawyer: Open this lengthy PDF on Lincoln as an attorney by clicking on the link from Southern Illinois University.

Lincoln, A Corporate Attorney and the Illinois Central Railroad: Open this link to read a PDF from the Missouri Law Review on Lincoln as an attorney and the Illinois Central Railroad.

American National Biography Online – Abraham Lincoln: A biography of Abraham Lincoln presented by the American National Biography Online.

Abraham Lincoln: People, Places, Politics: History in a Box: The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History presents this PDF that covers the various stages of Abraham Lincoln’s life including his early years and his years protecting people’s rights under the (law).

Life of Abraham Lincoln: Abraham Lincoln’s early life, early career and his militia service are all topics of this PDF.

Abraham Lincoln and the Law: Click this link to review an article that is provides primarily information about Lincoln as an attorney presented by The Lincoln Institute.

Presidential Bar Leaders: Fascinating Facts About America’s Lawyer – Presidents: The American Bar Association’s publication called Bar Leader offers this article about presidents who have been lawyers. A special section is set aside to discuss Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln: A Legacy of Freedom: People interested in taking an in-depth look at President Lincoln will want to click on this link. The document that opens will include information such as the “Groundwork for Greatness,” and “Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief.”

From Self-Taught Lawyer to President: Review the information on this page, which includes facts about the President starting with his life as a self-taught lawyer.

Lincoln as a Lawyer: Information about Lincoln’s career as a lawyer can be read about on this PDF from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

Abraham Lincoln’s Cases – The History of the Illinois Supreme Court: Readers who click on this link will open up a page on the Illinois Supreme Court website. The page lists the 175 cases in which Lincoln was counsel.

Abraham Lincoln’s Youth: Career choices are briefly touched on in this abbreviated snippet from America’s Story from the America’s Library.

Lincoln Timeline: A timeline of Lincoln’s life and his career can be found on this page.

National Geographic Abraham Lincoln: A video that outlines the life, accomplishments, and death of Abraham Lincoln.


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