People of the State of Illinois v. William Armstrong. Transcribed Articles and Related Materials, 1898-1983 | Illinois History and Lincoln Collections
This collection consists of material related to the People of Illinois v. William Armstrong, an 1858 trial in which Abraham Lincoln successfully represented the defendant.
William "Duff" Armstrong was accused of killing Preston Metzker during a drunken brawl at a camp in rural Mason County, Illinois, on August 29, 1857. Abraham Lincoln took the legal case as a favor to the Armstrong family, whom he had known during his years in New Salem, Illinois. The prosecution hinged on the testimony of an eyewitness, Charles Allen, who claimed to have seen Armstrong strike the fatal blow in the bright light of a full moon. At the trial, held in Cass County, Illinois, on May 7, 1858, Lincoln produced an almanac to show that the night actually was too dark for Allen to have seen the murder. Armstrong was acquitted, and the "Almanac Case" entered the Lincoln lore.
This collection contains a transcript of "Defended by Abe Lincoln: Recollection of Duff Armstrong's Trial for Murder as Told by Hon. H.C. Burnham" (1898), as well as transcriptions of news clippings about the trial. Also included is genealogical material regarding the Armstrong family.
This collection was donated to the Library by Ray Werner through the assistance of Ruth Johnson, descendants of William Armstrong, in 1984.