Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pro bono?

John J. Miller asked his online readers to help find information about a court case argued by Abraham Lincoln in 1854. They came through. From an historical marker:
Nine women from the village of Marion (now DeWitt), joined by women from Springfield, plotted against the village saloon frequented by their menfolk. The ladies banned together and crusaded against the “Demon Whiskey.” They stormed George Tanner’s saloon, rolled the whiskey barrels into the street, destroyed the kegs, and poured the vile liquid onto the ground. In May 1854, the ladies found themselves in the DeWitt County Courthouse for “riotously, unlawfully and with force turning out, wasting and destroying ten gallons of whiskey, of the value of five dollars.” They had not hired a defense attorney, but it just so happened Abraham Lincoln and John T. Stewart were present in the courtroom and offered their services. Lincoln argued the ladies were not criminals but righteous and moral women, attempting to save the men from the evils of alcohol. He declared they had been prompted by the same spirit and conviction as those who cast tea into the harbor during the Boston Tea Party. Lincoln and Stewart lost. A fine of two dollars each was imposed on the accused. The money, however, according to local lore, was never collected.
‘Demon Whiskey’ - By John J. Miller - The Corner - National Review Online