Miller-Davis Buildings

Miller-Davis Buildings (HM12YF)

Location: Bloomington, IL 61701 McLean County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 28.726', W 88° 59.607'

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"...If they believe...Vandeventer pointed the gun at Swartz and advanced upon him, merely to intimidate Swartz....
so that he could get to kill the dog, and with no intention of him, or otherwise hurting him with the gun, that was no assault within the meaning of the indictment."
So read notes in Lincoln's hand for his defense summary of the 1850 McLean County case, People vs. Vandeventer. Dog shootings were no more common in frontier Bloomington than divorce, bankruptcy, debt, or breach of contract. however, such violation of common order did require the rule of law. Lincoln attended all sessions of the McLean County Circuit Court, except for his time in Congress in 1848 and 1849. Local reminiscences and Davis family tradition state that Lincoln often visited here, conducting business and engaging in political discussions. With no formal training, the networks established in these informal environments were an important part of learning the law. From 1844 through 1854, fellow attorneys whose office was located in these buildings included: David Davis, Wells Colton, Asahel Gridley, Leonard Swett, William Hannah, John Scott, Asa McWilliams, John Wickizer, William Packard, and Thomas Macon.

The Miller-Davis Buildings provided offices for attorneys on the Old Eighth Circuit Court from 1844 into the 1850's. As attorneys traveling the circuit, they would borrow desks while in the hometowns of their colleagues. Lincoln, according to Gov. Joseph Fifer, described such an office: "He has his law library consisting of the statues of Indiana for the year 1833. He has his office furniture, consisting of a rocking chair with one rocker, and a center table with three legs....In addition to this he has a rat hole in the corner of his office that might be worth looking into." This office was recreated with David Davis's c.1845 office furniture.

An 1844 letter, from Wells Colton to friends in Massachusetts, provided a glimpse into the life of a junior partner in a law firm. Colton was partner to Davis and made his home in the law office. he learned that the job also involved fire-fighting and restoring the office afterwards. He wrote: "The office which serves as well for my domicil (sic) and dormitory was sacked to the walls. My slender housekeeping was thrown into mortal disarray-curtains-bed&tc moved too fast for much precaution. To our astonishment the fire was stopped after burning two homes and the office was saved. The refitting was a work of toil &—-I think exceeded by a half a springs whitewashing and adorning." Colton's portrait is on the left, and the 1981 reconstruction of Davis' office, where Colton fought the fire, on the right.

HM NumberHM12YF
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, September 27th, 2014 at 1:41pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16T E 331028 N 4482806
Decimal Degrees40.47876667, -88.99345000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 28.726', W 88° 59.607'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 28' 43.56" N, 88° 59' 36.42" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)309
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 106 E Front St, Bloomington IL 61701, US
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