Stuart-Lincoln Partnership

Click here to learn about John Todd Stuart (1837-1841)

In the spring of 1837, after having accepted Stuart’s offer to become his junior law partner, Lincoln moved to Springfield. Unfortunately, it appears that Stuart’s main concern was politics and he provided Lincoln with little legal instruction. In more of a sink-or-swim maneuver, it seemed as though Lincoln would have to begin learning by trying cases. The trial by fire came quickly as in November of1838, Stuart won election to the United States House of Representatives and left Lincoln to handle the legal partnership business alone.

Stuart remained in Congress until March 1843, which would soon become a problem for Lincoln.

The practice consisted primarily of debt-related matters, but Lincoln also handled a variety of cases regarding criminal, common law, and chancery divisions of law. Stuart and Lincoln both traveled the First Judicial Circuit, when Stuart was not in Congress. In 1839, Sangamon County joined a newly formed Eighth Judicial Circuit and Lincoln began to ride that circuit with incredible frequency and diligence. Stuart and Lincoln still maintained a strong presence at their legal practices in Sangamon, Tazewell, Logan, and McLean counties, but they handled cases elsewhere as well.

The Stuart and Lincoln law office was in an upstairs room along Hoffman’s Row, a group of buildings on Fifth Street in Springfield, one block north of the public square. After the state legislature voted to move the state capitol from Vandalia to Springfield in February 1837, the city donated the public square for the new statehouse. After Stuart won re-election to Congress in 1841, Lincoln, realizing that he could no longer maintain the practice by himself, on April 14, 1841, Stuart and Lincoln formally dissolved their legal partnership.