hunted up acts of injustice, but if they came to him he was easily enlisted.
In 1855 he was attending court at the town of Clinton, Illinois
. Fifteen ladies from a neighboring village in the county had been indicated for trespass.
Their offence consisted in sweeping down on one Tanner
, the keeper of a saloon in the village, and knocking in the heads of his barrels.
was not employed in the case, but sat watching the trial as it proceeded.
In defending the ladies their attorney seemed to evince a little want of tact, and this prompted one of the former to invite Mr. Lincoln
to add a few words to the jury, if he thought he could aid their cause.
He was too gallant to refuse and, their attorney having consented, he made use of the following argument: “In this case I would change the order of indictment and have it read The State vs
. Mr. Whiskey
, instead-of The State vs. The Ladies; and touching these there are three laws: The Law of self-protection; the law of the land, or statute law; and the moral law, or law of God. First, the law of self-protection is a law of necessity, as evinced by our forefathers in casting the tea overboard and asserting their right to the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.
In this case it is the only defense the ladies have, for Tanner
neither feared God nor regarded man. Second, the law of the land, or statute law, and Tanner
is recreant to both.
Third, the moral law, or law of God, and this is probably a law for the violation of which the jury can fix no punishment.”
gave some of his own observations on the ruinous