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 William Henry Herndon

William Henry Herndon

Birth
Greensburg, Green County, Kentucky, USA
Death 18 Mar 1891 (aged 71)
Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois, USA
Burial Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois, USA
Plot Block 14, 41
Memorial ID 3005 · View Source
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Lawyer. He is remembered as the law partner of Abraham Lincoln when he practiced law in Springfield, Illinois, prior to Lincoln's election as the 16th US President. The oldest son of a businessman, his family moved to Macon County, Illinois in 1820 and the following year they relocated to Sangamon County, Illinois and eventually settled in German Prairie, near Springfield. His father built the first tavern in Springfield, served in the Illinois state senate, and was instrumental in having the state capital moved to Springfield from Vandalia, Illinois. From 1836 to 1837 he attended Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois and returned to Springfield and clerked at the Joshua Speed store where he often engaged in debates, discussions, and poetry readings with Abraham Lincoln. In 1840 he began studying law at the Logan and Lincoln law practice and in November 1844 he passed the bar examination and began practicing law with Lincoln. In 1854 he was elected mayor of Springfield, Illinois. In 1856 he was one of the organizing men of the fledgling Republican Party after the dissolution of the Whig Party. Through his partnership and friendship with Lincoln he was never invited to Lincoln's home for dinner due to his contentious relationship with his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. He also admitted that his frustration with Lincoln's overly permissive parenting of his two younger sons, Willie and Tad, who he recalled as undisciplined and disruptive brats in the law offices caused some harsh words during their partnership. His final meeting with Lincoln occurred in 1862 when he visited Washington DC. Following Lincoln's assassination in April 1865 he began to collect stories of Lincoln's life from those who knew him. He was motivated to write a faithful portrait of his friend and law partner, based on his own observations and on hundreds of letters and interviews he had compiled for the purpose, and was determined to present Lincoln as a man, rather than a saint. In the 1880s he collaborated with Jesse W. Weik to put together a biography of Lincoln's life that resulted in a three volume edition called "Lincoln: The True Story of a Great Life" (1889). He died from influenza two years later at the age of 72. In film, he was portrayed by Jason Robards, Sr. in "Abraham Lincoln" (1930), Alan Baxter in "Abe Lincoln in Illinois" (1940), Jeffrey DeMunn in the television mini-series "Lincoln" (1988), Keith Carradine in the 1992 movie "Lincoln," Michael Maize in "Saving Lincoln" (2012), and Bob Gunton in the upcoming documentary film The Gettysburg Address" (scheduled for release in Spring 2015).

Bio by: William Bjornstad



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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 2 Jun 1998
  • Find A Grave Memorial 3005
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William Henry Herndon (25 Dec 1819–18 Mar 1891), Find A Grave Memorial no. 3005, citing Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .