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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Goodrich, Grant. 'Grant Goodrich to William H. Herndon' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: letter]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon509.html


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testimony was procured, but under the rulings of the Court, was excluded for the main purpose for which it was offered, but was admitted for an other purpose. We placed great reliance on an elder patent to establish the want of novelty in the invention of the plaintiff

The case was prosecuted with great zeal & ability, & the trial lasted for several days. Mr Lincoln took a great interest in the case. He had tended a saw-mill for some time, & was able in his arguments to explain the action of the water upon the wheel, in a manner so clear & inteligable, that the jury was enabled to comprehend the points and the line of defense. It was evident he had carried the jury with him, in a most Masterly argument, the force of which could not be broken by the reply of the opposing Counsel. But the Court was evidently infused with the Conviction that the plaintiff should recover, and charged on every material point for the plaintiff; & in effect told the jury that the prior patent on which we so much relied was no defense.

After the jury had retired Mr Lincoln became very anxious & uneasy. The jury was in another building, the windows of which opened on the Street. They had been out for some two hours — In passing along the Street, one of the jury, on whom we had very much relied, he being a very inteligent man & firm in his convictions, held up to him one finger — Mr Lincoln became very much excited, fearing it indicated that eleven of the jury were against him.

He was assured, that if this man was for him, he would never yield his opinion — He replied, if he was like a juryman he had in Tazwell County, the defendant was safe — That he was there employed to prosecute a suit for a divorce — His client was a very pretty refined & interesting woman in Court. The defendant was a rather gross, morose, querulous, fault finding, cross, & un comfortable person, entirely unfitted for the husband of such a woman. And though he was able to prove the use of very offensive & vulgar epithets applied by him to his wife, & all sorts of anoyances, but no such acts of personal violence assigned by the statute to justify a divorce. He did the best he could & appealed to the jury to have compassion on the woman & not bind her to a man & such a life as awaited her, as the wife of such a man. The jury took about this same view of it in their deliberations. They desired to find for her, but could find no evidence which would really justify a verdict for her; and drew up a verdict for the defendant and all signed but one, who when asked to do so, said, "gentlemen, I am going to lie down to sleep, & when you get ready to give a verdict for that woman, wake me up, for before I will give a verdict — against her, I will lie here until I rot, & the pis-mires carry me out of the Keyhole." Now said Mr. Lincoln, if that jury man will stick like that man, we are safe.

In a short time the jury came in with a verdict for the defendant. He always regarded this as one of the most gratifying triumphs of his professional life — He was afterward employed in one or two other patent suits, but they never came to a final trial. He had a great deal of Mechanical genius, could understand readily the principles & mechanical action of machinery, & had the power, in his clear, simple illustrations & Style to make the jury comprehend them.

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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Goodrich, Grant. 'Grant Goodrich to William H. Herndon' in 'Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln' . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. [format: book], [genre: letter]. Permission: University of Illinois Press
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=herndon509.html
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