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UIS Lincoln Legacy Lecture Series examines "Lincoln and the Law"

September 12, 2007

Contact: Barbara Ferrara, 217/206-7094, bferr1@uis.edu

SPRINGFIELD – The 2007 Lincoln Legacy Lecture Series presented by the University of Illinois at Springfield – this year focusing on "Lincoln and the Law" – will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, October 4, in Brookens Auditorium, located on the lower level of Brookens Library at UIS.  The event is free and open to the public.

This year's lectures are presented in memory of Professor Phillip Shaw Paludan, Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at UIS, who had served as host of the series and who passed away on August 1.

While over half of America's presidents have been lawyers, Abraham Lincoln was by far the most experienced trial lawyer to ever occupy the White House. Lincoln's training as a lawyer affected his approach to the presidency in many ways, perhaps most importantly by leading him to foster a culture of respect for legalsolutionsand procedure and allowing him to understand what was possible under the American legal and constitutional system and to shape his policies accordingly.

The featured discussants will be Dr. Mark E. Steiner, who will speak on "'The Sober Judgement of Courts': Lincoln, Lawyers, and the Rule of Law"; and Dr. Brian R. Dirck, whose topic will be "Abraham Lincoln: The Lawyer in the White House." Cullom Davis, UIS professor emeritus of history, will moderate.

Picture of Dr. Mark Steiner
Mark E. Steiner

From September 1994 until August 1995, Steiner was associate editor of the Lincoln Legal Papers Project, which Davis at that time directed. Steiner is currently a professor of law at South Texas College of Law. His book An Honest Calling: The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln (Northern Illinois University Press, 2006) paints a detailed portrait of Lincoln as a lawyer and highlights the guiding principles that earned him the nickname "Honest Abe." The book was recently named among the "Best of the Best" for 2007 by the Association of American University Presses and was hailed by the Journal of Illinois History as "the best work so far on Lincoln as a lawyer."

Picture of Dr. Brian Dirck
Brian R. Dirck

Dirck earned the Ph.D. at the University of Kansas, where he also served as Phillip Paludan's research assistant, helping with research for Paludan's award-winning book, The Presidency of Abraham Lincoln (University Press of Kansas, 1994). Dirck is currently associate professor of history at Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana. His books include Lincoln the Lawyer (University of Illinois Press, 2007), an examination of what the law did to and for Lincoln and the impact it had on his presidency, and Lincoln and Davis: Imagining America, 1809-1865 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2001). He is currently at work on a book about Lincoln and American race relations, scheduled for publication in 2009.

Cullom Davis was director and senior editor of the Lincoln Legal Papers project from 1988 to 2000; during that time, project staff discovered over 100,000 legal records associated with Abraham Lincoln's quarter-century career as a lawyer.  Davis is author and editor of five books, including The Public and Private Lincoln (Southern Illinois University Press, 1979) as well as numerous articles, including "Law and Politics: The Two Careers of Abraham Lincoln," Quarterly Journal of Ideology (June 1994). He also serves as an advisor to both the Illinois and the United States commissions planning the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial.

Each year, UIS' Lincoln Legacy Lecture Series brings nationally renowned scholars to Springfield to present lectures on public policy issues that are of contemporary interest and that also engaged Abraham Lincoln and the citizens of his era.  Speakers focus on the topic's modern form as well as how Lincoln addressed it.

The 2007 lectures are sponsored by the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership; UIS College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Cullom Davis; and Brown, Hay & Stephens, LLP.

Seating in Brookens Auditorium is limited; overflow seating will be available in conference room C/D, located on the lower level of the Public Affairs Center at UIS. Those unable to attend in person can watch a live webcast by going to www.uis.edu/mediaquad at the time of the event.

For more information, contact the Center for State Policy and Leadership at 217/206-6576.



The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 42 degree programs: 21 bachelorís, 20 masterís, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.

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Papers of Abraham Lincoln

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