While practicing law, Abraham Lincoln, like many lawyers, would “ride the circuit” and travel with the Eighth Circuit Court to different counties around Illinois in order to hold legal proceedings and settle disputes in rural areas lacking a permanent judicial presence. It was a relatively informal process that took place over a few weeks about twice a year, but Lincoln absolutely loved riding the circuit.
From time-to-time, the chief Judge David Davis, who Lincoln would later appoint to the United States Supreme Court, would be unable to preside over the court. When that happened, Lincoln would often be sworn in as a Judge and hold court in Davis’ absence. Though it is rarely noted in his biographies, Abraham Lincoln actually presided over more than 300 legal cases as a substitute Judge on the Eighth Circuit Court of Illinois.