Lew Wallace’s Career as a Criminal Lawyer

“Lew Wallace’s Career as a Criminal Lawyer” is the topic of our next video in the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum’s Dr. Howard Miller Lecture Series.

Criminal Lawyer

Photograph of Henry Wirz, Commandant of Andersonville Prison Camp. Wallace's career as a criminal lawyer prepared him for the Wirz trial.
Henry Wirz, Commandant of Andersonville Prison Camp in Georgia. Wirz was tried for war crimes.

Lew Wallace passed the bar exam in the late 1840s and immediately began his legal career. It was not a career that he particularly enjoyed. He once referred to the practice of law as the most odious of professions. In spite of this, he practiced law successfully for many years. During his career, Lew Wallace had a number of law partners, including his brother William.

Wallace moved his practice from Indianapolis to Covington in 1849. He was elected to the job of Prosecuting Attorney twice in the four years that he lived in Covington. During his practice in Covington, Lew met Abraham Lincoln in Danville, Illinois.

By 1853, Wallace had moved his family and his practice to Crawfordsville in a small wooden building on Pike Street. This lecture covers Lew Wallace’s criminal lawyer days. Dr. Norton discusses two murder trials in particular–trials that must have fascinated Lew Wallace. Dr. Norton also touches on the trials of the Lincoln Conspirators and Henry Wirz. Of the nine judges on the Conspirators tribunal, Lew Wallace was the only one with legal experience.

Dr. Jamey Norton

Jamey Norton, Professor of English at Marian University, specializes in Romantic, Victorian, and Modern British literature. He also teaches in Humanities and Honors programs, and the First Year Experience project in which he oversees academic curriculum. Since 2006 he has served as Dean of the School of Liberal Arts.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in History from Asbury College, an MA in English from the University of Kentucky, and a Ph.D. in British Literature from Indiana University, Bloomington. Dr. Norton lives in Crawfordsville.


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