Hutchinson and Wood to Participate in Symposium Honoring Lincoln

February 2, 2009

Original Abraham Lincoln Documents and Dred Scott Petition to Sue for Freedom to Be Displayed at Lincoln Bicentennial Event on February 6
A unique one-day symposium—Abraham Lincoln: His Legal Career and His Vision for America—will be held on February 6 at the Preston Bradley Hall in Chicago’s Cultural Center and will feature rarely exhibited historic documents and three video vignettes produced exclusively for this event.


Sponsored by the Seventh Circuit Bar Association, the symposium will exhibit the original Dred Scott petition to sue for freedom filed in St. Louis.  The National Archives-Great Lakes Region in Chicago will exhibit several Federal court records written by or about Abraham Lincoln during the 1850s and 1860s, including the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois general record book that contains a memorial to the assassinated President from his Springfield bar association colleagues shortly after his death.

Three special video vignettes depict two of the courtrooms where Lincoln argued and one where the first Dred Scott trial occurred will also be shown during the symposium:

  • The Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois, where Lincoln argued before the Illinois Supreme Court and where he gave his famous “House Divided” speech in 1858. The video will be narrated by the Hon. Anne M. Burke, Justice, Supreme Court of Illinois.
  • The Old Courthouse in St. Louis, Missouri, where the Dred Scott case was tried twice (1847 and 1850). The video will be narrated by the Hon. Michael A. Wolf, Judge, Supreme Court of Missouri.
  • The Old Supreme Court Chamber in Washington, D.C., where Lincoln argued Lewis v. Lewis in 1849. The video will be narrated by the Hon. John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States. Chief Justice Roberts will discuss Lincoln’s argument before the Court, as well as Lincoln’s handwritten notes for his argument.

Leading Lincoln experts and Constitutional scholars will explore Lincoln’s legal career from his trial lawyer days, when he handled several slave freedom cases, through his use of war powers as President and his championing of Emancipation and the Thirteenth Amendment ending slavery.

The Hon. Diane P. Wood, Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, will introduce keynote speaker Walter Dellinger, who served as Assistant Attorney General and headed the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) for President Clinton from 1993 to 1996. He was Acting Solicitor General for the 1996-97 Term of the Supreme Court. During that time, Dellinger argued nine cases before the Court, the most by any Solicitor General in more than 20 years.  

Other speakers and panelists include:

  • Allen Guelzo, Professor of Civil War Era, Gettysburg College. He is a two-time winner of the Lincoln Prize and wrote Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President and Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America, and Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America.
  • Russell Lewis, Executive Vice President and Chief Historian, Chicago History Museum.
  • The Hon. Ruben Castillo, Judge, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
  • David H. Zarefsky, the Owen L. Coon Professor of Communication Studies, Northwestern University. He is the author of several books on the Lincoln-Douglas Debates and teaches courses in history and criticism of U.S. public discourse, with a special emphasis on the pre-Civil War period and 1960s, as well courses in argumentation and Presidential rhetoric.
  • Three other Chicagoans who will participate are Dennis Hutchinson, Senior Lecturer on Law at the University of Chicago, Tom Sullivan, an attorney who has handled challenges to the incarceration of Guantanamo detainees, and John Rowe, the Exelon chairman, who also chairs the Chicago History Museum's board.

The program is open to members of the public who should register in advance through the association’s website at

The program that will be presented at the Preston Bradley Hall in Chicago can also be viewed at four other locations: Springfield, Ill at the Old State Capital; St. Louis at the Old Courthouse where the Dred Scott case was first tried;  Indianapolis at Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum;  and  Milwaukee at the Marquette Law School. The program can also be viewed as a webinar via the Internet. More information about the viewing options is available at the association’s website.

The Seventh Circuit Bar Association is the professional organization that represents lawyers and judges who practice in the federal courts of the Seventh Circuit, which includes Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. The Chicago History Museum is the presenting co-sponsor, and the program has been endorsed by the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

For more information about the Lincoln Symposium, contact Frank Martin at 312.329.3980 or

Diane P. Wood