The Case of Abraham Lincoln: Story of Adultery, Murder and the Making of a Great President

Written by Julie M. Fenster
Review by Susan Higginbotham

In 1856, Springfield, Illinois, is abuzz. One of its citizens, a prosperous blacksmith named George Anderson, has been murdered—and the suspects are Anderson’s wife and his young nephew, believed to have been carrying on a love affair in Anderson’s own house. Eventually, another citizen of Springfield will become involved in the Anderson murder case—a prominent lawyer and rising politician named Abraham Lincoln.

The Case of Abraham Lincoln has two main strands, the murder case in Springfield and Lincoln’s career as a lawyer and a politician. The strands intersect only peripherally until near the end of the book, when Lincoln joins the Anderson defense and plays a crucial, though undramatic, role in achieving an acquittal for the suspects.

Despite the subtitle, readers expecting a juicy tale of murder and adultery will be disappointed. Fenster’s main interest is in the procedural aspects of the case and in the lawyers on both sides, not in the suspects, who took their secrets, if they had any, to the grave. Those wanting to know more about Lincoln as a lawyer and about his role in 1850s American party politics, however, will find this a welcome addition to their shelves.