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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Shaw, J. Henry. 'J. Henry Shaw 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=herndon332.html


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-- 333 --

which was overuled. At the May term I expected Mr. Lincoln down to assist in the Alimony case again, & he came in due time, called at my office, & said I had "been sueing some of his clients, & he had come down to attend to it." He then had reference to a new Chancery case entitled "George Morre vs. Christina Moore & the heirs of Peter Moore" for a specific performance, the defendants all living near Springfield. I explained the case to him, & showed him my proofs. He seemed surprised that I should deal so frankly with him, & said he should be as frank with me, that my client was justly entitled to a decree, & he should so represent it to the court, that it was against his principle to contest a clear matter of right. So my client got a deed for a farm, which, had another Lawyer been in Mr. Lincoln's place, would have been litigated for years, with a big pile of costs, & the result probably the same. Mr. Lincoln's character for proffessional honor stood very high. He never vexed an opponent, but frequently threw him off his guard by his irresistable good humour. But I digress — I still thought that Mr. Lincoln had come to our court more particularly to attend to the Gill & Morre cases, and was very much surprised afterwards to see the immense interest he took in the Armstrong Case. He went into it like a Giant. The evidence bore heavily upon his client.

There were many witnesses, & each one seemed to add one more cord that seemed to bind him down, till Mr. Lincoln was something in the situation of Gulliver after his first sleep in Lilliput. But when he came to talk to the jury (that was always his forte) he resembled Gulliver again; he skillfuly untied here and there a knot & loosened here & there a peg, until, getting fairly warmed up, he raised himself in his full power & shook the arguments of his opponent from him as though they were cobwebs. He took the jury by storm. There were tears in Mr. Lincoln's eyes while he spoke. But they were genuine. His sympathies were fully enlisted in favor of the young man, and his terrible sincerity could not help but arouse the same passion in the jury. I have said it a hundred times, that it was Lincoln's speech that saved that criminal from the Gallows, and neither money or fame inspired that speech, but it was incited by gratitute to the young man's father, who, as Mr Lincoln said "was his only friend when he was a poor homeless boy."These are the only facts which I now recollect occurring at our Court worthy of your notice concerning that case. I might say however, as part of the previous history of the case, that the Indictment was found at the Oct. Term 1857 of the Mason Cir. Court, against James H. Norris & Wm. Armstrong. The indictment charges that on the 29th day of August 1857 they murdered James Preston Metzker — Norris striking him on the back of the head with a club & Armstrong striking him in the right eye with a slung shot. [1] Norris was tried at the Oct. Term 1857 Mason Cir. Court, found guilty of Man-Slaughter & sent up for 8 years. Dilworth & Campbell [2] were council for Norris.

At the Oct. term 1857 Mason Co Wm. Walker appeared as Counsel for Armstrong, and made two Motions, one to quash the indictment, which was overuled. The other to discharge the prisoner, which was withdrawn.

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Wilson, Douglas L., ed.; Davis, Rodney O., ed.; Shaw, J. Henry. 'J. Henry Shaw 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=herndon332.html
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