Lincoln: Prelude to the Presidency (TV Documentary)





Riding through prairie grass on trails just barely wide enough for his horse, Abraham Lincoln traveled more than 500 miles each spring and fall as a lawyer on Illinois’ Eighth Judicial Circuit.

WILL-TV’s "Lincoln: Prelude to the Presidency" tells the story of his experiences from 1837 to 1860 that shaped the views and honed the skills that guided him when he became president. Reenactments filmed in central Illinois help viewers envision Lincoln riding the dusty circuit, telling stories with friends and trying cases in court.

“That’s where he really got a sense of the various kinds of problems people faced,” said historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, one of the experts featured in the documentary. “He got a sense of the exuberance of their dreams and their hopes. In a certain sense, I think it was the root of his political education.”

Viewers see Lincoln as they’ve never seen him before: defending a slave holder trying to reclaim a slave named Jane Bryant and her children; brandishing a sword on the banks of the Mississippi River at dawn before being talked out of fighting a duel; and crossing the prairie reading a book atop his horse, Old Tom, on the way to his next stop on the circuit.

"Lincoln: Prelude to the Presidency" was written and produced by Alison Davis Wood, co-produced and directed by Tim Hartin, and edited by Colin Hartin. Funding was provided by the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission; Country Financial; the Monticello, Illinois, Chamber of Commerce; the Office of the Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the Illinois State Bar Association and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum.


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