Even after the mythical elements are removed, the true story of Abraham Lincoln and the Almanac Trial is a compelling tale of courtroom drama that involves themes of friendship and loyalty. Abraham Lincoln's Most Famous Case: The Almanac Trial sets the record straight: it examines how the dual myths of the dramatic cross-examination and the forged almanac came to be, describes how Lincoln actually won the case, and establishes how Lincoln's behavior at the trial was above reproach.
The book outlines three conflicting versions of how Lincoln won the Almanac Trial—with a dramatic cross-examination; with an impassioned final argument; or with a forged almanac—and then traces the transformation of these three stories over the decades as they were retold in the forms of campaign rhetoric, biography, history, and legal analysis. After the author exposes the inaccuracies of previous attempts to tell the story of the trial, he refers to primary sources to reconstruct the probable course of the trial and address questions regarding how Lincoln achieved his victory—and whether he freed a murderer.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
1 Murder at a Whiskey Camp 1
2 Lincoln the Cross-Examiner 7
3 Lincoln the Orator 13
4 Lincoln the Trickster 18
5 The Hagiography of the Trial 23
6 The Historiography of the Trial 33
7 Lincoln and the Clary's Grove Boys 42
8 The Camp Meeting 52
9 The Prosecution 62
10 The Trial Begins 73
11 The Famous Cross-Examination 86
12 The Misplaced Moon 100
13 Winning the Almanac Trial 109
14 Was Armstrong Guilty? 119
Appendix A The Statements of the Major Participants 123
Appendix B Selected Documents from the Armstrong Court File 151
Appendix C The Oral History of the Armstrongs 165
Selected Bibliography 207
What People are Saying About This
"Engrossing. Reads like an engaging mystery. Dekle, through meticulous scholarly research and with a novelist's style, unscrambles the conflicting accounts of Lincoln's famous Almanac murder trial in this endeavor to uncover the true story."
"Dekle provides a unique and fascinating examination of the celebrated Almanac trial. As a retired prosecutor, he utilizes his years of legal experience to weigh the known testimony and evidence, and brilliantly undertakes a cross-examination of the competing historiography of the past 150 years. The reader will be exposed to new insights, and will assuredly be won over to his side. It will forever be very difficult when considering the Almanac Trial to argue against the solid case that Dekle has objectively presented."
"Abraham Lincoln's participation in the case of People v. Armstrong has become the stuff of legend. Often studied but rarely understood, the 'Almanac Trial' as it has been presented often obscures more than it reveals about Lincoln as a lawyer. From a sparse official record, a cornucopia of often-unreliable reminiscences, and fictional accounts in print and on screen, George R. Dekle unravels the many strands of fact, fiction, and assumption that form the public memory of this case. Drawing on his experience as both a defense attorney and a prosecutor, Dekle separates reasonably reliable facts from decades of lore that has veiled the case. His careful examination of the evidence in the Armstrong trial sheds new light on Lincoln's role in this most famous of his thousands of cases."
"In his latest book, Bob Dekle proves that he is as much a master storyteller as he is a professor and prosecutor. He sets the stage like a movie director, introducing us to the impoverished widow who sells her meager belongings when she hires a young lawyer to defend her accused son. Along the way, Dekle annotates the history-making tale with legal facts and factoids that only a legal insider would know but that a legal outsider can easily understand."