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Abraham Lincoln

Let's Talk About: Abraham Lincoln and Edwin Stanton

Abraham Lincoln 62%

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Although they became friends later in life, Abraham Lincoln and Pittsburgh lawyer Edwin Stanton developed a dislike for each other during their involvement in the McCormick Reaper case.

Mr. Lincoln had been a lawyer for 19 years before he was hired with Mr. Stanton, Peter Watson and George Harding to represent the Manny Co., which had been sued in 1855 by the McCormick Co. in a dispute over the patent rights of a farm tool design.

Mr. Lincoln had been hired for the case not because of his experience or fame as a lawyer, but because he was inexpensive and could possibly influence the Northern Illinois judge. However, when the trial was moved to Cincinnati, that advantage disappeared.

On Sept. 20, 1855, Mr. Lincoln arrived in Cincinnati prepared for trial. However, Mr. Stanton, Mr. Watson and Mr. Harding were unimpressed with his physical appearance and wanted to drop him from the case.

Because Mr. Lincoln was so well-prepared for the case, he convinced the team of lawyers to allow him to remain in the courtroom.

In preparing for the case, the Manny lawyers decided that only two arguments would be made. Mr. Watson would speak about the mechanics of the machinery. Slyly, Mr. Stanton suggested that Mr. Lincoln be the one to deliver the argument. Attuned to Mr. Stanton's sarcasm, Mr. Lincoln declined and returned the suggestion. Mr. Stanton accepted; Mr. Lincoln was essentially frozen out from participating in the case. Eventually, Manny won. Mr. Lincoln returned to Illinois embittered by the experience.

After being elected president of the United States in 1861, Lincoln chose Mr. Stanton to head the nation's war department, despite the disdain between the two men. Mr. Lincoln knew that Mr. Stanton was tenacious, honest and dependable, all necessary qualities for the Secretary of War position.

During Lincoln's presidency, the two began to trust each other fully, developing a professional relationship and even a close friendship.

After Mr. Lincoln was shot on April 14, 1865, Mr. Stanton accompanied him at his bedside. As the president took his last breath, Stantonsaid, "Now, he belongs to the ages," foreshadowing Mr. Lincoln's historical immortality.

Visitors to the History Center's new exhibition, "Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War," can see an authentic handwritten n. te from President Lincoln to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

 

By Shannon George, History Center communications intern

 

Source: post gazette NOW - June 18, 2009


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