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
The killing took place at a rowdy Saturday night in late August...according to witnesses, a fight started and James Norris smacked James Metzker on his head with a length of wood, then Armstrong hit Metzker in his right eye with a homemade weapon, a chunk of metal wrapped in leather called a slung shot. Metzker was more grievously wounded than anyone suspected. He mounted his horse and rode home, falling off several times. Once home, he took to his bed and died three days later ... It was impossible to determine which blow had killed him, so both Armstrong and Norris were charged with the crime. Norris was tried first, and was quickly convicted and sentenced to eight years. There seemed to be little hope for Duff Armstrong—and then Abe Lincoln took his case ... It was a difficult case that might well determine the legal boundaries for self-defense. And like many of his (Lincoln's) previous cases, he had a personal involvement...but this time the nation was watching.
Our 16th commander-in-chief's genius shines in this riveting account of his courtroom prowess ... Dan Abrams and David Fisher’s book adds a new layer of understanding about how Lincoln’s mind worked as a consummate trial lawyer, and how that mind provided the platform for his political prowess.