“Abrams and Fisher quote generously from Hitt’s transcript to bring into sharp focus the witness-by-witness testimony and courtroom proceedings.”



This is the story of a murder trial in which Lincoln represented the accused in the case, which happened shortly before Lincoln announced his candidacy for president of the United States. Most of the information about this case comes from a rare transcript of the trial taken by Robert Hitt who also transcribed the Lincoln-Douglas debates. It was discovered in 1989 in the garage of a descendant of the defendant.

The case surrounds the murder of Greek Crafton by Peachy Quinn Harris. There was never a question that Harris killed Crafton, the question was whether it was self defense or murder.

Because of the transcript we get a full and accurate view of the entire case, which took place in Springfield, Illinois in 1859. The case is interesting and the portrait of Lincoln as an attorney is compelling and a great view of his personality and his character, and how is fellow attorneys viewed him. But the part of the book that is most fascination is how trials were held at that time, what lawyers could do then that they could not do now. Everyone involved in this case new each other very well. Lincoln was very good friends with the prosecutor and they both knew the judge very well. It the stunning part is that the deceased had once worked for Lincoln in his law office and the defendant’s family were personal friends of Lincoln.

The most important witness in the case is the grandfather of the accused who is a reverend and everyone on both sides of the case firmly believe that he wouldn’t lie. It’s an amazing story. We also get some views of other cases that Lincoln took on so this book is a nice overview of Lincoln and the art of jurisprudence as practiced at that time.

The book is written with a good narrative and at 287 pages is a fairly quick and easy read. Highly recommended.


Reviewed by:

Richard Franco

Added 7th February 2019

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Richard Franco