Abraham Lincoln and the Litchfield Law School

It is well known that graduates of the Litchfield Law School figured prominently in national politics during the Civil War era.  Vice President John C. Calhoun was an early proponent of secession.  He may have been influenced by talk of New England secession during his time in Litchfield.    Eugenius Aristedes Nisbet wrote the articles of secession for the state of Georgia.  Earlier still, law school graduates including William Holabird, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Roger Sherman Baldwin participated on the prosecution and defense of the Amistad captors.  Lawyer, minister and humorist  Augustus Baldwin Longstreet was a staunch defender of slavery.

Today, during the course of research for the new Litchfield Female Academy and Litchfield Law School student database announced in our latest newsletter, researcher Lynne Brickley discovered an amazing, and previously unknown, connection to Abraham Lincoln.  Litchfield student Judge John Pitcher advised a youthful Lincoln about the practice of law, gave him advice, and lent him books including two copies of Blackstone’s Commentary in which Lincoln is said to have penned his name.

The staff is excited to learn of this further evidence of the Law School’s national significance, and will continue to research the connection.

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About Linda Hocking

I have been the Curator of Library & Archives at the Litchfield Historical Society since 2002. I also serve on the State Historical Records Advisory Board, as President of New England Archivists, and as newsletter editor for the Academy of Certified Archivists. I have been a certified archivist since 2005.

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