Abraham Lincoln: Conflicted Gaurdian
(1809-1865) Lincoln was 38 years old at the time of the trial and was two weeks away from leaving for Washington D.C. to take his seat as a Representative from Illinois.  He had married Mary Todd in 1842 and they had two children, Robert age four and Edward about a year and half.  He had been admitted to the bar in 1837 and spent much of his time traveling with the circuit court on the 8th Judicial Circuit ranging from northwest of Springfield to Paris near the Indiana state line.  The 8th circuit included Paris and Shelbyville, which forced the court and its lawyers to pass through Charleston. The lawyers often took extra work here as they passed, though Lincoln was more attached to Coles County because his father and step-mother, Thomas and Sarah Bush Lincoln, lived south of town at Goosenest Prairie.  Lincoln made the trip to Charleston in October 1847 for several reasons: he had a few other minor matters before the court held over from previous sessions; he probably wanted to say goodbye to his family before leaving for Washington; and he may have wanted to be involved in the Matson trial which promised to be of some import and that would set precedent for how Illinois felt on the issue.  He represents Robert Matson, the slave owner, at the trial basing his argument on the fact that the slaves were in transit and not permanently settled here, hence they should remain slaves. He never wrote or spoke about this trial leaving his motivations to be surmised by historians.