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Maryville Talks Books: Dan Abrams

June 13, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

Author Dan Abrams

ABC’s chief legal correspondent brings us Lincoln in his own words, thanks to a one-of-a-kind transcript of the high-stakes trial that launched his presidential campaign.

It’s tough to claim to bring something truly new to the massive bibliography that’s been written already about Lincoln’s life, but Dan Abrams and David Fisher have done it with the help of a heretofore unknown transcript of People v. Harrison, a landmark self-defense case argued in the sweltering summer of 1859, just two years before his election to the nation’s highest office.

The stakes were truly high—the defense’s case, which Lincoln argued, was by no means a sure thing. Just six months prior, Lincoln had been launched to national prominence with his daring performance in the Lincoln-Douglas debates. A loss on this stage could have crippled his political career.

The debates also introduced Lincoln to Robert Hitt, the “steno man” charged with recording the debates verbatim, a fairly new practice. When Lincoln decided to take Harrison’s case, Hitt was on hand to transcribe the trial.

The result is one of the most colorful portrayals of Lincoln’s monumental skill as a litigator that exists, illuminating verbatim Lincoln’s interactions with witnesses, cross-examinations, and even courtroom downtime. Lincoln’s Last Trial connects the events of the trial and the complex web of relationships between those in the courtroom to known elements of Lincoln’s life outside the courtroom (his troubled marriage, brutal training as a self-taught, traveling new lawyer, and his time in the Black Hawk War) to create the fullest picture possible of one of the most examined men in American history.

Dan Abrams is the CEO and Founder of Abrams Media and the Chief Legal Affairs Anchor for ABC News. He is also the host of both Sixty Days In and Live PD on the A&E network. A graduate of Columbia University Law School, he has written for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, among many others. He lives in New York.

This event is free and open to the public, but proof of purchase of Lincoln’s Last Trial from Left Bank Books will be required to enter the signing line.

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June 13, 2018
7:00 pm
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Maryville University Auditorium
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