Lincoln's Last Law Office

Lincoln's Last Law Office (HMWZ8)

Location: Springfield, IL 62701 Sangamon County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 48.089', W 89° 38.967'

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Lincoln and Herndon rented law offices at several locations over the years. Their last was a rear room on the second floor in a building that stood here. Leslie's Weekly published this drawing of the office interior during the 1860 presidential campaign. It contradicts contemporary descriptions of a "dingy" and "untidy" office. Its windows overlooked back-alleys and tar-covered roofs (below right). In hot weather the room sometimes had a caustic resin smell. "a law office is a dry place for incidents of a pleasing kind," Herndon observed. Below left is the earliest known picture of William Herndon, circa 1870.

Abraham Lincoln's third and final law partner was William H. Herndon. He was nine years Lincoln's junior. They practiced together from 1844 to 1861. Arriving at work Lincoln would tease: "Billy—-how is your bones philosophy this morning?" Working in the shadow of his celebrated senior partner, Herndon did much of the legal research for their cases and managed the office during Lincoln's frequent absences. After Lincoln died, Herndon hoped to write the definitive biography of his famous friend. He collected reminiscences from all sorts of people. Herndon's interview notes, correspondence, and Lincoln biography are important sources regarding the pre-presidential Lincoln. Mary Lincoln and other were greatly offended at some of Herndon's allegations—-among them, that Lincoln was a religious skeptic and that his only true love was New Salem's Ann Rutledge. Mary called Herndon a "hopeless inebriate" and a "dirty dog." Herndon called Mary "the female wildcat of the age." Herndon battled alcoholism and died in relative poverty in 1891.

His law office was one of the last places Lincoln visited before he left Springfield to become president. In the late afternoon of February 10, 1861—-his last full day in Springfield—-Lincoln came here to discuss unfinished legal business and to reminisce with his partner of over sixteen years, William Herndon. According to Herndon, Lincoln asked that he leave their doorway shingle in place—-"Let it hang there undisturbed," he instructed—-until his work in Washington was done and he could return to resume his law practice with Herndon once again. One last time the two men stepped down the familiar dark narrow stairwell then walked together into the fading afternoon light, the senior partner never to cross the office threshold again.

HM NumberHMWZ8
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 at 3:21pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 273175 N 4409082
Decimal Degrees39.80148333, -89.64945000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 48.089', W 89° 38.967'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 48' 5.34" N, 89° 38' 58.02" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 101-199 SW Old State Capitol Plaza, Springfield IL 62701, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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