Who Knew? Abraham Lincoln Was a Divorce Lawyer

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809. Most historians agree, he was one of our nation’s greatest presidents – not only for issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, but also for holding the union together during the civil war. He was able to help end slavery and unite our states by standing by the fundamental principal that everyone knows in their hearts – slavery is wrong.

Not surprisingly, Lincoln stood by firm principals before his presidency. I’ve always loved what he wrote in preparing to deliver a lecture to lawyers in 1850, as they show that Honest Abe was just that, and consistent. I think some of his words of wisdom are particularly relevant today, and especially in the context of family law litigation. In custody disputes, attorneys should consider themselves in the business of truth finding, not truth hiding. And, we should never “stir up litigation.”

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President Abraham Lincoln was descended from S...

President Abraham Lincoln was descended from Samuel Lincoln, and was of English and Welsh ancestry. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Suicide’s Soliloquy is an unsigned poem, thought to be written by Abraham Lincoln, first published on August 25, 1838, in The Sangamo Journal, a four-page Whig newspaper in Springfield, Illinois.

The poem:

Here, where the lonely hooting owl
Sends forth his midnight moans,
Fierce wolves shall o’er my carcase growl,
Or buzzards pick my bones.

No fellow-man shall learn my fate,
Or where my ashes lie;
Unless by beasts drawn round their bait,
Or by the ravens’ cry.

Yes! I’ve resolved the deed to do,
And this the place to do it:
This heart I’ll rush a dagger through,
Though I in hell should rue it!

Hell! What is hell to one like me
Who pleasures never knew;
By friends consigned to misery,
By hope deserted too?

To ease me of this power to think,
That through my bosom raves,
I’ll headlong leap from hell’s high brink,
And wallow in its waves.

Though devils yell, and burning chains
May waken long regret;
Their frightful screams, and piercing pains,
Will help me to forget.

Yes! I’m prepared, through endless night,
To take that fiery berth!
Think not with tales of hell to fright
Me, who am damn’d on earth!

Sweet steel! come forth from your sheath,
And glist’ning, speak your powers;
Rip up the organs of my breath,
And draw my blood in showers!

I strike! It quivers in that heart
Which drives me to this end;
I draw and kiss the bloody dart,
My last—my only friend!

— with Abraham Lincoln in United States.

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Lawdiva's Blog

Did you know that America’s 16th President was a divorce lawyer? I didn’t, but according to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War of Middle Tennessee, he was.

And who are they? An organization founded to “Preserve the Memory of the Grand Army of the Republic and our ancestors who fought to preserve the Union 1861-1865″.

The Sons of Union hosted a program in Nashville Tennessee in 2012 that explored how Lincoln’s divorce practice impacted who he was as a leader and offered a glimpse of the society he lived in.

Researcher Stacy Pratt McDermott found that between 1837 and 1861 Lincoln and his three law partners handled 131 divorce cases in 17 Illinois county circuit courts. The state of Illinois was one of the first in America to grant divorces, make custody orders and provide alimony for women.

Grounds for divorce in Illinois included desertion, adultery, habitual…

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