Lincoln the Divorce Lawyer

The Wall Street Journal has a brief blog post on Lincoln’s legal work, not much of which – outside the Reaper Trial – gets a lot of play in his biographies.

There is some work out there on Lincoln’s divorce practice. In 1998, Stacy Pratt McDermott cobbled together this brief based on her research of Lincoln’s papers. She found that between 1837 and 1861, Lincoln and his law partners handled 131 divorce cases in 17 Illinois county circuit courts across the state.

Women brought 82 of the those cases, and the courts granted divorces to women plaintiffs in those cases 79% of the time. Male plaintiffs obtained divorces only 69% of the time, according to McDermott.

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