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from its birth, and that they cannot be deceived. Shall the actions of the animals be accepted as evidence? “May it please your honor,” said Lincoln, "I submit that the voice of Nature in the colt and its mother is of far more importance than the testimony of man. This is a case in which the argument is as to the weight of evidence. It is a civil suit, and we want to find out who owns the colt. It is a case in which the jury must decide according to the weight of evidence. Now, gentlemen of the jury, if you were going to bet as to which of the mares is the mother, on which would you risk your money—even if it was not more than a picayune? On which is the preponderance of evidence? Possibly you might not be right, but that is not the question. It is whether you will accept the testimony of thirty men and the silence of one of the mares on the one side, or the testimony of thirty-four men, the other mare, and the colt on the other side ?”
The case was so plain that the jury had no difficulty in deciding as to which farmer was the rightful owner of the colt. They decided just as they would have bet their money.
Another case was that of a poor woman, nearly eighty years old, who came with a pitiful story. Her husband had been a soldier in the Revolutionary War, under Washington. He was dead, and she was entitled to a pension amounting to $400. A rascally fellow, pretending
COURT-HOLSE, PETERSBURG. [From a photograph taken by the author, 1890. The town of Petersburg was surveyed by Mr. Lincoln.
and many of his legal arguments were made in this building.)
great friendship for her, had obtained the money, but had put half of it into bis own pocket.
The poor woman was the only witness. The jury heard her story. Abraham Lincoln the while was making the following notes on a slip of paper :
He rises and turns to the judge. Of the lawyers sitting around the table perhaps not one of them can say just what there is about him which hushes the room in an instant. “May it please your honor”—the words are spoken slowly, as if he were not quite ready to go on with what he has to say—“gentlemen of the jury : this is a very simple case -so simple that a child can understand it. You have heard that there has been no contract—no agreement by the parties. You will observe that there has been no professional service by contract.” Slowly, clearly, one by one the points were taken up. Who was the man to whom the Government of the United States owed the money? He had been with Washington at Valley Forge, barefooted in midwinter, marching with bleeding feet, with only rags to protect him from the cold--starying for his country. The speaker's lips were tremulous, and his eyes filled with tears as he told how the soldiers of the Revolution marched amid the snows, shivered in the wintry winds, starved, fought, died that those who came after them might have a country. Judge, jurymen, lawyers, and the people who listen wipe the tears from their eyes as he tells the story of the soldier parting from friends, from the wife, then in the bloom and beauty of youth, but now friendless and alone, old and poor. The man who professed to be her friend had robbed her of what was her due. His spirit is greatly stirred. The jury right the wrong, and compel the fellow to hand over the money. And then the people see the lawyer who has won the case tenderly accompanying the grateful woman to the railroad station. He pays her bill at the hotel, her fare in the cars, and charges nothing for what he has done!(*)
A negro woman came to Mr. Lincoln with a pitiful story. She and her children had been slaves in Kentucky, but their master had brought them to Illinois and given them their freedom. Her son was a cabin - boy on a steamboat. When the boat reached New Orleans the boy went on shore, and, not having a pass, was arrested. He was in jail, and would soon be sold into slavery because he had no money to pay the fees due the jailor. He was a citizen of Illinois.
6 What can you do for the boy, legally and constitutionally ?” wrote Lincoln to the Governor of the State.
“I am powerless; I have no authority," was the reply.
Mr. Lincoln saw as never before the aggressiveness of slavery; how it was laying its iron hands upon citizens of Illinois. He walked the floor with rising indignation. “I'll have that negro back, or I'll have an agitation in this State that shall last twenty years, if need be, to give the Governor authority to act in such a case!” he exclaims. He obtained $200, and secured the return of the boy.
It was a pleasure for him to help others. He loved justice and right. He would not undertake to conduct a case in court unless he had right on his side. It was a very strange announcement which he made when a case was called in which he appeared as counsel : “May it please your honor, I have examined this case with great care; the only question at issue is one of authority. I have not been able to find any authority to sustain my side, but I have found several cases in point on the other side. I will give them, and subunit the case to the Court.” Instead of presenting bis own side, or instead of sitting in silence, he had given the argument and authority on the side of his opponent.
A lawyer in Beardstown received a call from Lineoln. “I learn," said the latter, "that you are suing some of my clients, and I have come to see about it.”
“Yes, I have brought suit against a man in order to make him carry out a contract. Here is the agreement between the parties. Read it, and see if I have not justice on my side,” the reply.
“You are right. Your client is justly entitled to what he claims, and I shall so represent it to the Court. It is against my principle to contest what is clearly a matter of right.” (°)
Right first, justice always, chicanery never—those were the principles of Abraham Lincoln.
A man wanted him to undertake a case, told his story, and was astonished to hear Lincoln reply: "Yes, I can doubtless obtain your case for you. I can set the whole neighborhood at loggerheads. I can distress a widowed mother and her six fatherless children, and thereby get you $600, to which you seem to have a legal claim, but which rightfully, as it appears to me, belong quite as much to the woman and her children as to you. You must remember that some things are legally right which are not morally right. I will not undertake your case, but will give you a little advice, for which I shall charge nothing. You seem to be an energetic man, and I advise you to make $600 some other way.”
At Clinton there was so interesting a case that men and women from all the surrounding country crowded the court - room. Fifteen women were arraigned. A liquor seller persisted in selling whiskey to their husbands after the wives begged him not to do so. He cared nothing for their protestations, but laughed in their faces. The tears upon their cheeks did not move him. What should they do? There was no law to stop him. They marched to the groggery, smashed in the heads of the barrels with axes, and broke the demijohns and bottles. The fellow bad them arrested. No lawyer volunteered to defend them. Abraham Lincoln, from Springfield, entered the room. There was something about him which emboldened them to speak to him. “We have no one to defend us. Would it be asking too much to inquire if you can say a kind word in our behalf ?” the request.
The lawyer from Springfield rises. All eyes are upon him. May it please the Court, I will say a few words in behalf of the women who are arraigned before your honor and the jury. I would suggest, first, that there be a change in the indictment, so as to have it read, The State against Mr. Whiskey,' instead of “The State against the Women.' It would be far more appropriate. Touching this question, there are three laws: First, the law of self-protection; second, the law of the statute; third, the law of God. The law of self-protection is the law of necessity, as shown when our fathers threw the tea into Boston harbor, and in asserting their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is the defence of these women. The man who has persisted in selling whiskey has had no regard for their well-being or the welfare of their husbands and sons. He has had no fear of God or regard for man; neither has he had any regard for the laws of the statute. No jury can fix any damages or punishment for any violation of the moral law. The course pursued by this liquor dealer has been for the demoralization of society. His groggery has been a nuisance. These women, finding all moral suasion of no avail with this fellow, oblivious to all tender appeal, alike regardless of their prayers and tears, in order to protect their households and promote the welfare of the community, united to suppress the nuisance.
The good of society demanded its suppression. They accomplished what otherwise could not have been done."
There was no need for him to say more. The whole case had been stated, and the jury understood it.
Ladies," said the judge, “you need not remain any longer in court unless you desire to. I will require no bond of you; and if there should be any fine imposed, I will give you notice.” The judge was so polite and smiling that everybody in the room understood that there was no probability of a fine. (0)
Mr. Cass had a case in court. He owned two yoke of oxen and a breaking-up plough which he wanted to sell, and which Mr. Snow's two sons bought, giving their note in payment. Neither of the boys had arrived at the age of manhood. Mr. Cass trusted that they would pay the note when it became due; but it was not paid. Abraham Lincoln questioned a witness :
Can tell me where the oxen are now ?” he asked. “They are on the farm where the boys have been ploughing.” " Have you seen them lately ?” “ I saw them last week." “How old are the boys now ?"
“One is a little over twenty-one, and the other is nearly twentythree."
They were both under age when the note was given ?” “Yes, sir." “ That is all."
“Gentlemen of the jury: I do not think that those boys would have tried to cheat Mr. Cass out of his oxen but for the advice of their counsel. It was bad advice in morals and in law. The law never sanctions cheating, and a lawyer must be very smart indeed to twist the law so that it will sanction fraud. The judge will tell you what your own sense of justice has already told you—that if those boys were mean enough to plead the baby act when they came to be men, they at least ought to have taken the oxen and plough back to Mr. Cass. They ought to know that they cannot go back on their contract and also keep what the note was given for."
So plain the case the jury, without leaving their seats, rendered a verdict, and the young men were obliged to pay for the oxen and plough, besides learning a wholesome lesson.
While riding the circuit Abraham Lincoln was taking a lively interest in political affairs. There was much dissatisfaction throughout the