At the end of the summer of 1859, twenty-two-year-old Peachy Quinn Harrison went on trial for murder in Springfield, Illinois. Abraham Lincoln, who had been involved in more than three thousand cases-including more than twenty-five murder trials-during his two-decades-long career, was hired to defend him. This was to be his last great case as a lawyer.
Abraham Lincoln’s legend was formed well before he became America’s 16th president in 1860. Popularly known to his Illinois friends, neighbors and colleagues as 'Honest Abe,' he was admired as much for his rough-hewn, self-educated, rail-splitting youth as for his mature identity as one of the leading lawyers in the state capital of Springfield ... The historic outlines are all too familiar, but now ABC News chief legal affairs anchor Dan Abrams and author David Fisher deliver the pre-presidential Abe from hazy myth with Lincoln’s Last Trial: The Murder Case That Propelled Him to the Presidency
A study of a murder trial with potential implications for the political career of our 16th president ... In July 1859, Greek Crafton physically attacked Harrison in a drugstore; Harrison responded by stabbing Crafton with a knife, mortally wounding him. A grand jury indicted Harrison for murder, prompting his father to hire Lincoln and Stephen Logan, Lincoln’s former law partner, as defense attorneys...what unfolded was a dramatic trial, a complete transcript of which was kept by stenographer and future congressman Robert R. Hitt. ... The story of Lincoln and the Harrison murder trial is intriguing but not necessarily significant enough to merit its own book.
Drawing from a transcript of The State of Illinois v. 'Peachy' Quinn Harrison discovered in 1989 in a garage once belonging to the defendant’s great-grandson, the authors give readers a moment-by-moment account of the murder trial, which featured a well-liked young victim, a claim of self-defense, a deathbed admission, and Abraham Lincoln for the defense ... Lincoln enthusiasts will find the illumination of his preternatural legal skills a worthy subject; casual readers will find the centerpiece murder trial an engrossing legal thriller.