— " Looking For Lincoln " —
Left PanelA FRIEND FOREVER"I appeal to you because I can to no other with so much confidence,"
Lincoln said to Doctor William H. Fithian, August 15, 1860. He was asking for Fithian's assistance in a political matter.After both were elected to the Illinois Legislature in 1834, a friendship developed between the two Whigs, who shared political views and goals. In 1841 Fithian hired Lincoln to represent him in a court case in Vermilion County. In the years following, Lincoln represented Fithian in a number of legal matters, some reaching all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court. Lincoln visited the Doctor in his home in Danville when court was in session. A notable overnight stay at the Fithian home occurred during Lincoln's 1858 senatorial contest with Stephen Douglas. On his arrival in Danville, a large crowd followed him from the depot to the Doctor's house, calling on Lincoln to make a few remarks. He complied by climbing out a bedroom window and making a brief speech in his stocking feet from a balcony on the second floor.
(Copy of Newspaper Articles)
Lincoln had no better friend in the county than the "Vermilion County Press", a weekly newspaper published by James D. Kilpatrick. The paper served as the voice of the Republican party, and from the time Lincoln entered his losing campaign for Senator, until he fell to the bullet fired by John Wilkes Boothe, the "Press" was staunchly behind him.
Doctor William H. Fithian was a real estate investor, mercantile store owner, private banker, farmer, state legislator, volunteer soldier in the Black Hawk War, and volunteer physician during the Civil War. But, primarily, he was a doctor traveling great distances over the Illinois prairie in the early days of statehood. Fithian was Lincoln's friend, client, and political supporter for more than thirty years. He was the iron man of Whig and Republican politics on the Eastern Illinois prairie. Fithian, one of the oldest practicing physicians in the state, was interviewed by Hiram Beckwith about the changes he had observed during his decades in Illinois. When asked to comment on his friend Lincoln, the Doctor reflected a few moments and then said, "He was just Lincoln," as if the name told it all - - for generations it has.