of James P. Metzler
, in May, 1858, at Beardstown, Illinois
, in which Lincoln
secured the acquittal of the defendant, was one of the gratifying triumphs in his career as a lawyer.
's defense, wherein he floored the principal prosecuting witness, who had testified positively to seeing the fatal blow struck in the moonlight, by showing from an almanac that the moon had set, was not more convincing than his eloquent and irresistible appeal in his client's favor.
The latter's mother, old Hannah Armstrong
, the friend of his youth, had solicited him to defend her son. “He told the jury,” relates the prosecuting attorney, “of his once being a poor, friendless boy; that Armstrong
's parents took him into their house, fed and clothed him, and gave him a home.
There were tears in his eyes as he spoke.
The sight of his tall, quivering frame, and the particulars of the story he so pathetically told, moved the jury to tears also, and they forgot the guilt of the defendant in their admiration of his advocate.
It was the most touching scene I ever witnessed.”
Before passing it may be well to listen to the humble tribute of old Hannah Armstrong
, the defendant's mother: “Lincoln
had said to me, ‘Hannah
, your son will be cleared before sundown.’
I left the court-room, and they came and told me that my son was cleared and a free man. I went up to the court-house.
The jury shook hands with me; so did the judge and Lincoln
; tears streamed down Lincoln
's eyes ... .. After the trial I asked him ”