Lincoln and The Law

Lincoln and The Law (HMG2Q)

Location: Clinton, IL 61727 De Witt County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 9.225', W 88° 57.643'

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— Looking for Lincoln —

During his twenty years on the Eighth Judicial Circuit, Abraham Lincoln tried numerous cases in the DeWitt County courthouses, including a slander case involving William Dungey. Dungey, "a dark skinned man of Portuguese descent," married Joseph Spencer's sister. The brothers-in-law had a dispute that became so bitter that by 1855, Spencer was making a serious accusation: "Black Bill" Dungey, as Spencer was calling him, was a "negro." In this time and place, if Dungey were indeed proven to have on-fourth African blood, he stood to lose his good reputation as well as his legal rights to his marriage, property ownership, his vote, and Illinois residency. Since 1819, Illinois laws permitted pseudo-slavery and discouraged free blacks from residing in the state.Representing Dungey in April 1855, Lincoln charged Spencer with slander. The case carried over to the fall term of court and was brought before a jury. Lincoln prevailed. Spencer was found guilty and ordered to pay $600 restitution and $137.50 court costs. Lincoln charged Dungey $25 for his services and counseled Dungey to avoid an appeal.

Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas were co-counsel for the defendant in DeWitt County's first murder trial, People -vs- Spencer Turner, one of the very few times Lincoln and Douglas worked as partners. Turner was charged with causing injuries that led to the demise of Matthew Martin. Proving the deceased came to his death from lying out in the harsh elements rather than blunt force to the head, the two won their case.Turner was acquitted in May of 1840. On September 8, 1841, Lincoln filed suit to collect his legal fee from Spencer and William Turner, who defaulted on their promissory note. Douglas was able to take his share in currency. According to local legend, Lincoln was forced to accept a horse in lieu of payment, and not long after the horse became "stone blind and perfectly worthless."
HM NumberHMG2Q
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Year Placed2009
Placed ByWilliam Davenport, Lincoln Heritage of DeWitt County
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, October 17th, 2014 at 8:52am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16T E 333004 N 4446665
Decimal Degrees40.15375000, -88.96071667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 9.225', W 88° 57.643'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 9' 13.50" N, 88° 57' 38.58" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 201-243 N Center St, Clinton IL 61727, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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