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The untold story of how one sensational trial propelled a self-taught lawyer and a future president into the national spotlight. In May of 1856, the steamboat Effie Afton barreled into a pillar of the Rock Island Bridge, unalterably changing the course of American transportation history. Within a year, long-simmering tensions between powerful steamboat interests and burgeoning railroads exploded, and the nation’s attention, absorbed by the Dred Scott case, was riveted by a new civil trial. Dramatically reenacting the Effie Afton case—from its unlikely inception, complete with a young Abraham Lincoln’s soaring oratory, to the controversial finale—this “masterful” (Christian Science Monitor) account gives us the previously untold story of how one sensational trial propelled a self-taught lawyer and a future president into the national spotlight.
Instant New York Times bestseller! A USA Today Top 10 Hot Book for Summer “Makes you feel as if you are watching a live camera riveted on a courtroom more than 150 years ago.” —Diane Sawyer The true story of Abraham Lincoln’s last murder trial, a case in which he had a deep personal involvement—and which played out in the nation’s newspapers as he began his presidential campaign 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. What normally would have been a local case took on momentous meaning. Lincoln’s debates with Senator Stephen Douglas the previous fall had gained him a national following, transforming the little-known, self-taught lawyer into a respected politician. He was being urged to make a dark-horse run for the presidency in 1860. Taking this case involved great risk. His reputation was untarnished, but should he lose this trial, should Harrison be convicted of murder, the spotlight now focused so brightly on him might be dimmed. He had won his most recent murder trial with a daring and dramatic maneuver that had become a local legend, but another had ended with his client dangling from the end of a rope. The case posed painful personal challenges for Lincoln. The murder victim had trained for the law in his office, and Lincoln had been his friend and his mentor. His accused killer, the young man Lincoln would defend, was the son of a close friend and loyal supporter. And to win this trial he would have to form an unholy allegiance with a longtime enemy, a revivalist preacher he had twice run against for political office—and who had bitterly slandered Lincoln as an “infidel…too lacking in faith” to be elected. Lincoln’s Last Trial captures the presidential hopeful’s dramatic courtroom confrontations in vivid detail as he fights for his client—but also for his own blossoming political future. It is a moment in history that shines a light on our legal system, as in this case Lincoln fought a legal battle that remains incredibly relevant today.
As our nation's most beloved and recognizable president, Abraham Lincoln is best known for the Emancipation Proclamation and for guiding our country through the Civil War. But before he took the oath of office, Lincoln practiced law for nearly twenty-five years in the Illinois courts. Abraham Lincoln, Esq.: The Legal Career of America's Greatest President examines Lincoln's law practice and the effect it had on his presidency and the country. Editors Roger Billings and Frank J. Williams, along with a notable list of contributors, examine Lincoln's career as a general-practice attorney, looking both at his work in Illinois and at the time he spent in Washington. Each chapter offers an expansive look at Lincoln's legal mind and covers diverse topics such as Lincoln's legal writing, ethics, the Constitution, and international law. Abraham Lincoln, Esq. emphasizes this often overlooked period in Lincoln's career and sheds light on Lincoln's life before he became our sixteenth president.
Step back into what was then the wild-and-woolly Far West of 1857 and the trial that helped make Abraham Lincoln a household name. Get a juryman's front-row view of the Illinois courtroom battle that defined the economic war fought between St. Louis steamboat men and women and their hated foes, the Chicago and New York railroad tycoons. Hell Gate of the Mississippi is the first book that covers this explosive chapter in our early history.
What the law did to and for Abraham Lincoln, and its important impact on his future presidency
A surprising work of narrative history and detection that illuminates one of the most daring and long-forgotten heroes of the Civil War."

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