History Gets Personal

This morning Rush Limbaugh mentioned a legal case that has personal connections with me.

He was discussing Trump’s tweet acknowledging that he did not tape James Comey. It has inflamed the Left. But, of course, anything Trump does results in an orgy of anger. His shoe size would probably make them mad.

Their insanity has caused no less than law professor Alan Dershowitz to defend Trump. He did so in a piece in The Hill, “Opinion: Trump’s bluff: perfectly legal.” Dershowitz explains his conclusion by relating a very famous case Lincoln handled. He writes:

As a young lawyer, he, too, bluffed a witness into telling the truth. In one of his most famous murder cases, a witness testified that he saw Lincoln’s client kill the victim. The time it occurred was at night, so the witness testified that he was able to see the crime because there was a full moon. Lincoln then handed the witness an almanac and asked him to turn to the date in question. The almanac showed that there was no moon on that night, and the witness broke down and admitted that he had not seen the crime. The defendant was acquitted. Lincoln later acknowledged that he had deliberately fooled the witness into telling the truth by handing him an almanac for the wrong year. The correct year’s almanac indeed showed a full moon.

Norman Rockwell depicted the incident in this painting.

The story is personal because the defendant, William Duff Armstrong, was my relative. His father, Jack, my great great or so grandfather met Abe when he came to New Salem, Illinois. They had a famous wrestling match which Lincoln won and the two became fast friends. Abe lived with them for awhile, even rocking the cradles of their children. When Duff got in trouble, his mother, who Lincoln referred to as “Aunt” Hannah, asked for Lincoln’s help. He told the anxious mother at the trial that her son “would be cleared before sun down.” He was.

Hannah was fond of Abe and saw him off when he boarded the train to Washington to become president. She told him she was afraid she’d never see him again and that he would be killed. He told her, “Hannah, if they kill me I shall never die another death.” She didn’t see him again, but he did intervene for her when she asked that Duff be discharged from the Army after an illness. Lincoln granted her request.

My Republican roots run deep.

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