Abraham Lincoln, “bet the company” litigator

Friend of Overlawyered Margaret Little recently reviewed for the WSJ a new book about Abe Lincoln’s greatest law case: “While Judd, like many a flamboyant trial lawyer, opened with the big themes of crime and political influence, it was the technical case advanced by Lincoln that won the day. Mr. McGinty illustrates how central Lincoln’s understanding of river currents, bridge engineering and steamboat operation was to the success of the defense. … (Lincoln was the only president to hold a patent, for a boat-lifting device.)”


  • A nice touch would be to indicate when articles are behind paywalls.

    • I second the motion for paywall warnings.

  • Appreciate the sentiment. It’s not always a trivial matter to flag, since while composing I’m typically logged in via cookies to media sites to which I subscribe or have registered. Sites to which I subscribe seldom make it clear on my screen which articles are fully paywalled to others, which count toward ceilings of five or ten articles a month, which require registration schemes, and which have been left outside the paywall as the WSJ and other papers do to some of their content.

    It is worth bearing in mind that the WSJ paywall is ordinarily semi-permeable by accessing through search; Google a phrase that you know appears in the article, click through the search result, and an unpaywalled version is usually the reward.

  • About a year later, Lincoln was brought into a lawsuit team with eastern heavyweight Edwin M. Stanton, a ferocious snob who cut the rustic Lincoln dead. (Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals). Lincoln was able to overlook grudges, and would appoint the brilliant and incorruptible workoholic Stanton as his Secretary of War. It is not known if Lincoln avoided, even in jest, mentioning the prior snub to the prickly Stanton.