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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Birch, Jonathan. 'Jonathan Birch (Jesse W. Weik Interview)' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: interview]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon726b.html


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624. Jonathan Birch (Jesse W. Weik Interview) [1].

[1887?]

"At the appointed time," said Mr. Birch when he related the incident, "I knocked at the door of his room and was admitted. Motioning me to be seated he began his interrogatories at once without looking at me a second time to be sure of the identity of his caller. ‘How long have you been studying?’ he asked. ‘Almost two years,’ was my response. ‘By this time it seems to me,’ he said laughingly, ‘you ought to be able to determine whether you have in you the stuff out of which a good lawyer can be made.’ Then he asked me in a desultory way the definition of a contract

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and two or three other fundamental questions, all of which I answered readily and, as I thought, correctly. Beyond these meager inquiries, as I now recall the incident, he asked nothing more. Meanwhile, sitting on the edge of the bed he began to entertain me with recollections — many of them characteristically vivid and racy — of his own practice and the various incidents and adventures that attended his start in the profession. The whole proceeding was interesting and yet so unusual, if not grotesque, I was at a loss to determine whether I was really being examined or not. In due time we went downstairs and over to the clerk's office in the court-house, where he wrote a few lines on a sheet of paper which he enclosed in an envelope and directed me to report to Judge Stephen T. Logan, the other member of the examining committee at Springfield. The next day I went to Springfield where I delivered the note as directed. On reading it Judge Logan smiled and, much to my surprise, gave me the required certificate or license without asking a question beyond my age, residence and the correct way of spelling my name. The note from Lincoln read:

MY DEAR JUDGE —

The bearer of this is a young man who thinks he can be a lawyer. Examine him if you want to. I have done so and am satisfied. He's a good deal smarter than he looks to be.

Yours
LINCOLN

Weik, 133-34

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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Birch, Jonathan. 'Jonathan Birch (Jesse W. Weik Interview)' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: interview]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon726b.html
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