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Lincoln's Last Trial: The Murder Case That Propelled Him to the Presidency
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Lincoln's Last Trial: The Murder Case That Propelled Him to the Presidency

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  173 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
The true story of Abraham Lincoln's last murder trial, a strange case in which he had a deep personal involvement--and which was 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 m ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Hanover Square Press (first published June 1st 2018)
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Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Talk to the jury as though your client's fate depends on every word you utter. Forget that you have any one to fall back upon, and you will do justice to yourself and your client."
- Abraham Lincoln


There are many levels of biography and history. There are academic books, published by small academic presses. There are popular biographies, written by journalists, etc., that tend to follow a more narrative-style. Obviously, Dan Abram's short history of Abraham Lincoln's last murder trial fits the l
Nathan Albright
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: challenge2017
[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Edelweiss/Hanover Square.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

The title of this book is not entirely accurate.  While this was the last sensational case that Lincoln handled as an attorney before his nomination for the presidency, he had a few smaller cases after this one finished in the summer of 1859.  Also, it is a bit of a stretch to say that this case propelled him to the presidency, although it could have done a lot of harm had he lost th
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a fascinating book this is. Reading like a novel, it reveals the history of a murder case in which Abraham Lincoln defended an accused young man in Springfield, Illinois, in 1859. Due to the great good fortune of a transcript of the trial being found in the 1980’s, we are able to follow the trial almost verbatim from that hot summer so long ago.

Before the development of stenography, verbatim transcripts of trials simply didn’t exist. We are lucky that Robert Hitt, a steno man who was known
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a person who has never heard of Lincoln's last murder case, I found this book very informative. Not only Abe Lincoln was yet again proven to be a great leader but he had an amazing ability to win a case that was set for failure from the beginning.

For those who do not know the case, Peachy Quinn Harrison had stabbed Greek Crafton during a fight. Days earlier the two had another clash during town's gathering and both made treats against each other. The night of the horrific incident, Peachy pul
Apr 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction-adult
I read this from an ARC from the publisher, not the final sales edition.
This work of narrative non-fiction is very readable, but has a bibliography that made me wonder a bit. About half of the sources listed are internet versions of things, some of which are merely online versions of books, but others are articles which, themselves, would have to be checked for veracity.
In any case, what the two authors have done is take the facts of a real murder trial, and using various sources, turn it into a
Sarah -  All The Book Blog Names Are Taken
I received a free digital copy of this text via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Fantastic read, full review to come.


See my full review here:

Lincoln's Last Trial is an account of the 1859 trial of Simeon Quinn "Peachy" Harrison whom Lincoln successfully defended against the charge of murder in the stabbing death of Greek Crafton. While this was not technically Lincoln's last trial, it was his last murder trial. An although it is a stretch to say that the trial propelled him to the presidency, it is fair to say that it was a very high profile trial and the visibility and winning the case did not hurt his public standing.

Author Dan Abr
Lincoln's Last Trial is a well-written, compelling telling of Lincoln's last major case (a murder trial) prior to his election as the 16th President. Told through the point of view of Robert Hitt, scribe to the trial, whose handwritten manuscript of the trial discovered in 1989 is the basis of the book, we learn how well-respected Lincoln was as a lawyer and a man. His decades long law practice had spread his reputation far and wide in Illinois, and the recent Lincoln-Douglas debates had put him ...more
May 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, lincoln
*Disclaimer: I received my copy of this book after winning a free giveaway here on Goodreads.*
As someone who is deeply fascinated by and interested in Abraham Lincoln, I was so excited to read this book. Lincoln's law career has been the subject of relatively little scholarly examination, at least in comparison to his presidency. And while this discrepancy is certainly understandable, I was thrilled to read an in-depth look at his last trial. Overall, this book is quite good - the authors do a
Chaim Shapiro
Jun 26, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is well written and it is an enjoyable read. Abrams chose to tell the story from the perspective of the trail stenographer, Rober Hitt, which brought an interesting perspective.

At one point in the book, Abrams noted that the stenographers were taught to be careful not to falsely attribute quotations in their notes. Abrams should have followed that advice himself.

For some reason, Abrams created dialogue and quotations throughout the book. That was completely unnecessary and made me que
Roger Taylor
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
An extremely enjoyable study of the last trial of Abe Lincoln's legal career in which he defended Quincy Harrison, who was charged with murdering Greek Crafton after a bitter conflict. The skills and great intelligence which Lincoln demonstrated as President were fully on display in his brilliant defense in a case where the prosecution seemed to have an air tight case. What is so remarkable about this book is that much of the information was obtained from the transcripts which had been recorded ...more
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Using the frame of Lincoln's last major courtroom appearance before he became president, Abrams gives insight not only into the future president, but also the milieu of "western" America in the 1850s and the development of the American legal system. The minute by minute tension of Lincoln's defense of the accused keeps suspense high in this excellent non-fiction title. My only criticism is Abrams hints at Lincoln's personal life but never rounds out those comments. But that's minor; I highly rec ...more
Rob Banks
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book and read it fairly quickly. I had an advance copy from Edelweiss plus. It reads well as it basically follows a transcript of the trial with historical and contemporary detail that fill out the context of the trial. I thought it gave an insight into the style of Lincoln that was a part of his presidency as well as a lawyer. I recommend the book to anyone interested in Lincoln, trials and history.
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great pleasure to read.

This book is a must-read, not only for Lincoln fans and history buffs, but for anyone who loves the law, or who reveres the rule of law, and it’s vital importance to American freedom and democracy. Lawyers and law students, especially, will be inspired by this book.
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was a Goodreads giveaway book. Overall, it was a decent book that showed Lincoln in his element as a lawyer in Illinois, defending a local citizen accused of murder. To me, I found the historical notes more interesting than the actual trial that was transcribed. Regardless, it provided some insight into Lincoln as a person and a professional.
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating read about a subject that is not well known: Lincoln's last trial before he became President. He had been a lawyer for a long time and was quite well known throughout the territory of being an accomplished attorney. The book is based on the manuscript of the scribe during the trial. Great story but you do get distracted by the diversions of Lincoln's other trials.
Matthew Fisher
Mar 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dropped
The author(s) fail to make this a compelling novel about a legal case or a biography, wherein each detracts from the other, forcing neither to be done well. Although, where it really lost me was the constant liberties taken in assuming people's emotions, thoughts, and even second guessing their established written word. Dropped this about halfway through.
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very readable account of Lincoln's last trial that took place in 1859 Springfield Illinois. It was fascinating to read about Lincoln's prowess in the courtroom and his folksy manner that endeared him to the common man.
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent history that demonstrates why Lincoln was such an extraordinary figure even before he ran for president. His legal skills prefigured the sagacity and eloquence that steered the nation through the most dangerous period in our history.
Larry Earhart
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have always enjoyed learning more about our 16th president and the information included in this book goes long ways in describing Abe Lincoln of the man he ways.
Deborah  Cleaves
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not the best storyteller.

The author is not a good storyteller, yet the story itself is sufficiently compelling to drive the reader forward at this rare and personal glimpse of a man we will never know but wish we could.
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018
Great detail.
Jun 11, 2018 rated it liked it
I thought this was very interesting and read like a normal fiction book.
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
I found the writing in this book incredibly dry. I appreciate that Abrams relied so heavily on the court testimony, but made for a rough read. So much could have been summarized.
rated it it was ok
May 06, 2018
Alice Machwart
rated it it was amazing
Jun 22, 2018
dana baker
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Jun 21, 2018
Paul Ousley
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Jun 26, 2018
Carol Baker Dill
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Jun 21, 2018
Jane Hotzler
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Jun 26, 2018
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Dan Abrams is an attorney, author, Legal Analyst for ABC News, and substitute anchor for Good Morning America.

Early Years
Before joining NBC News, Dan worked as a reporter for Court TV where he became well known for his coverage of the OJ Simpson case. He covered most of the high profile trials of that decade including the International War Crimes Tribunal from The Netherlands, and the assisted-sui
More about Dan Abrams

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“In 1832, in Lincoln’s first attempt to win public office, the good Reverend Cartwright had defeated him for a seat in the Illinois state legislature. They met a second time in the congressional election of 1846, an especially nasty campaign. Running as a Whig, Lincoln objected strongly to Cartwright’s insistence on bringing his religion into the public square. The Democrat Cartwright responded by tarring Lincoln as “an infidel,” a man unfit to represent good Christians. Lincoln had won that election, and neither of the men had seen fit to apologize.” 0 likes
“He had seen a scribbled copy of a letter Lincoln had written to Justice of the Peace John King, who had been elected only a year earlier and had turned to him for advice on the administration of justice. The letter had been circulated by friends eager to push Lincoln’s political prospects, and Hitt had been so taken with it he’d made a copy for himself. He’d figured it was pretty good advice: “Listen well to all the evidence,” Lincoln had written, “stripping yourself of all prejudice, if any you have, and throwing away if you can all technical law knowledge, hear the lawyers make their arguments as patiently as you can, and after the evidence and the lawyers’ arguments are through, then stop one moment and ask yourself: What is the justice in this case? And let that sense of justice be your decision.” 0 likes
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