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240. David Davis (William H. Herndon Interview).

September 19th 1866.

Judge Davis —

I was Elected Judge Sept 48. Sat in Sangamon Co up to 1857 — 14 Counties, Sangamon, Tazwell, Woodford — McLain, Logan — De Witt — Piatt, Champaign Vermillion, Edgar — Shelby, Moultre — Macon, & Christian — are about 100 m square — see a Map. Lincoln was with me all around the circuit — Travelled around the Circuit twice per year; out 6 mo Each year —

Lincoln Commenced practicing in Bloomington in 1837 and never ceased to come here and attend the Court. He practiced under me — for the years of 48. to 1858 — went all around the Circuit.

I met in 1861 in Indianapolis, Judd, Lamon — were with him all the way — Hunter & Sumner &c — got in Springfield — Browning went with Lincoln went as far as Indianapolis Ind. I went to Harrisburg. — Judd had Pinkerton to investigate the Conspiracy. Pinkerton reported I think reported at Philadelp, Lamon went throug; it was decided at Harrisburg. I never heard that a torpedo or other thing was put on the track or in the cars. We went to Washington through Baltimore the next day.

I was appointed Judge of Supm Court in 1862 was with Lincoln some. Lincoln was a peculiar man: he never asked my advice on any question — sometimes I would talk to him & advise him: he would listen — The idea that he told his religious views to any one is to me absurd, I asked him once about his Cabinet: he said he never Consulted his Cabinett. He said they all disagreed so much he would not ask them — he depended on himself — always. I may say that he did once or twice ask me some questions about money affairs and how to put out his money — &c &c He wanted me to go to Baltimore Convention — didn't go. April 4th 1864 is the last time I saw him until he was dead and in his Coffin — He never would turn a man out off and hence his Cabinet clung together. He said He ran the Machine himself.

Bancroft knew nothing about Lincoln: He was an old democrat and never sympathized with. Lincoln was a remarkbl man: he said that as a Republican government all men & women & Children had a right to see the Presdt & State his grievances. I Know it was the general opinion in Washington that I knew all about


Lincolns thoughs but I Kew nothing. Lincoln never confided to me anything. He never told me a word on reconstruction — Lincoln would never have split with Congress: he would have fought it out on his own fronts — Johnson was a low down — a demagogue &c. Seward was a Kind tender Man: he said to Johnson on this question of reconstruction — I'll Stand by you. Seward thought that the South had done Enough — namely repudiate the rebel debt — pass the amendment and repudiate the Southern debt. All looks dark now to me: hate hate. hate — &c —

I was at the City of Springfield about the time of Lincolns & Trumbulls Election. I got some Abolitionists to go for Lincoln. Told Lincoln to watch Jo Gillespie and Bill Butler. Lincoln earnestly urged his friends to go for Trumbull (see Sam Parks)

1840 —

Lincoln was around Every where discussing politics: he & Douglas around Douglas & Lincoln went in 1840 all around the Circuit with Treat, & Spoke in the afternoon —

The Arch Williams Story.
The Orm & Dutch Story. — I wanted Orm appointed — Lincoln saw me Coming — Said — There's Davis he bothers one nearly to death — I applied for Orm. Lincoln said he would appoint him — said the list Contained Orms name — asked Lincoln to let me see it: he said Davis you have no faith. I said Lincoln I am a cautious man and want to see for my self. Let me see your list. I read it and and saw they were out They were out. Told Lincoln so — and Said By G — d I'd go and see who did it & Knife him — He sent it over and had it Corrected —

Conscienciousness great —

Great in court anywhere if he thought he was right. he Inquired more into cases than into the Philosophy: was a good Circuit Court Lawyer Pride of success — not unscrupulous — Knowledge of human Nature — Knew the law of nature must catch it quickly.

Patterson trial — fort Sumpter times — in Champaign — Patterson had killed a man: he had lots of friends & money — Lincoln & Sweat defended him. Ficklin & Lamon for People — After hearing the testimony Lincoln said he — the man was guilty — Swett you defend him. I can't — They got a fee of five hundred or a thousand dollars — .

The Woman case — in Champaign — the Seduction case Lincoln got to believe that the witnesses were false — A young man was put on the Stand who


refused to testify. Lincoln went the idea that the witnesses were all wrong — went at them, crushed them — Every Man in the Court house except Lincoln and Jury. Lincoln got a verdict of $800. or a thousand.

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2650 — 54; Huntington Library: LN2408, 2:41 — 45



1. In a manuscript entitled "Lincoln as Lawyer — Politician & Statesman" (Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 4190 — 4219), WHH, in quoting from his interviews with Davis, wrote in a margin: "While passing I wish to say that I examined Judge Davis in '66 at Bloomington and he dictated while I wrote. That writing is in my hand now" (Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 4193). The contents of this manuscript were apparently based on §§240 — 42, §381, and §419 and were later adapted by JWW for their joint biography. Whether all these notes derive, like §§240 — 42, from the interviewing sessions of September 20 and 21, 1866, is not known.

2. AL and Davis became close friends and often traveled and roomed together on the circuit. As Davis attests, AL usually traveled the entire circuit with him twice a year during this period and was thus in his company a great deal. For an account of their experiences on the circuit that details some of the cases referred to in Davis's interviews with WHH, see Willard L. King, Lincoln's Manager: David Davis (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960), 71 — 87.

3. See pp. 632 — 33.

4. Leonard Swett.