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Barry Schrader


I write this column for the following newspaper:

  • Daily Chronicle : DeKalb County Life

The Articles started December 2007.


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What would Abe Lincoln do today?

By Barry Schrader.................................April 7, 2009

An essay competition was conducted recently among middle school students in some of the county schools, with the theme being “Honest Abe – What would he do in today’s world?” The top three winners were from Cornerstone Christian Academy in Sycamore and Huntley Middle School in DeKalb. The writing competition was sponsored by Oak Crest DeKalb Area Retirement Center.
All three top winners’ essays seemed very pertinent in these difficult times. Third place went to James Waterman, second to Katherine Hoffman and first to Jalyn Gordon. I was so impressed with seventh-grader Jalyn’s paper, I want to reprint it here, with his permission.

He wrote:

Today’s world is far more complicated than the days of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was a man of integrity and strength; he believed in fighting for what was true.

I believe that in today’s world, Lincoln would fight to keep American companies here in the United States, so that Americans could have jobs. Lincoln would see that Americans had the proper education and skills to compete with foreign countries.

Essay contest winner Jalyn Gordon stands beside his Huntley Middle School principal Roger Scott

I also believe that he would lobby against the destruction of American farms so that Americans would not be dependent upon foreign produce. Lincoln would make sure that all Americans go green to help slow the progression of global warming; he would also require that all auto makers build cars that would not harm the environment. Lincoln would find a way to help America become less dependent on foreign oil.

Because Lincoln had a strong reputation for being honest, he would make sure that the banks and auto makers be held responsible for the billion-dollar bailout.

Lincoln would be a strong supporter of foreign relations; Lincoln would also make sure that before Americans go to war, we know exactly what we are fighting for. He would be against genocide and would do whatever is necessary to see an end to it.

And on the lighter side of what Lincoln would do, he would make his own clothing for all the tall people and specially made shoes for tall people. Imagine how hard it was for him to find clothes and shoes in his days.

In addition to the savings bond prize, young Jalyn gets to sit at the head table with Lincoln scholar and interpreter George Buss this Wednesday night during the annual dinner of the DeKalb County Historical-Genealogical Society.

Lincoln the lawyer takes a DeKalb County man’s case

The Joiner History Room has documents from an Illinois Supreme Court case heard in December 1845, in which then-lawyer Abraham Lincoln represented the defendant Matthew Nesbit. It was all over a trespassing incident that had been tried in the DeKalb Circuit Court earlier that year with the Hon. John D. Caton presiding. In that case, the jury found Nesbitt owed the plaintiff Joseph Ross et al $92 in damages. How it ever wound up at the state court level, I could not find out, but the complex legalese in the document would be a challenge for even today’s lawyers to comprehend.

In essence, Lincoln’s client lost his appeal, the original court’s judgment was affirmed and defendant Nesbit was ordered to pay. If some attorney would like to help interpret the higher court’s reasons affirming the DeKalb court’s decision, please be my guest. I have a photocopy of the proceedings single-spaced and seven pages long. Lincoln is only quoted once in the document.

And he apparently did not come to DeKalb County to meet with his client or view the land in question.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115