Urbana's Lincoln

Urbana's Lincoln (HMKTI)

Location: Urbana, IL 61801 Champaign County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 6.734', W 88° 12.414'

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— Looking for Lincoln —

Top Section
Murder, larceny, and even rape- - -the young circuit lawyer Abraham Lincoln, practicing in Urbana, handled cases involving all of these in the courthouse which stood on this city block. Lincoln unsuccessfully defended William Weaver, the first man accused of murder in Champaign County. Lincoln appeared in court here from 1841 to 1860. The cases weren't all felonies: Lincoln more often represented ordinary citizens with their divorces, land title disputes, and contested debts. He worked with local attorneys like J. O. Cunningham (later a Champaign County Judge, county benefactor, and historian) and Henry Clay Whitney (a Lincoln biographer). Each court visit required working through the entire docket of cases until they were settled, tried, or continued. Sometimes Lincoln presided as judge pro tem, when the standing judge, David Davis could not be present. Lincoln might serve as counsel for the plaintiff- - -or the defendant. In the document pictured below, Lincoln is signing for himself and local lawyer William Coler, pleading for Vannata, who was being sued for improper care of Burgess' sheep.
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Lincoln also advanced his political career in Urbana. On May 31, 1854 while in Urbana, Lincoln learned of the adoption of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, allowing for popular sovereignty, and the potential spread of slavery to U. S. Territories. On October 14, 1854, in the Circuit Courtroom on this site, Lincoln delivered one of a group of speeches against the expansion of slavery.

Lower Section
Abraham Lincoln was reputed never to "touch whiskey or play cards." During an 1848 court session, he also admitted that he had never played billiards. J. C. Sheldon, another young attorney who, in his physical appearance, was the direct opposite of the lanky Lincoln, was also new to the game. Lincoln and Sheldon met for a match.
H. M. Russell, a local hotelier's nephew, reported: "No matter where the balls lay, Mr. Lincoln would lean his whole body over the rail and with his long arms reach anywhere on the table. Mr. Sheldon's large prominence came in contact with the rail for nearly every shot. He could not lean over, but would try to lie on the table with his feet off the floor." The game (for 100 points) lasted well into the night, and no one remembered who won.
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Year Placed2008
Placed ByFriends of the Courthouse
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 5th, 2014 at 8:41pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16T E 397146 N 4440912
Decimal Degrees40.11223333, -88.20690000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 6.734', W 88° 12.414'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 6' 44.04" N, 88° 12' 24.84" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 83-151 Co Rd 1600 N, Urbana IL 61801, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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