Abraham Lincoln, True Crime Author

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Abraham Lincoln is known for many things. He was the 16th President of the United States and held the country together during the Civil War. Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address, freed the slaves with his Emancipation Proclamation, and championed the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which outlawed slavery once and for all.

Many people know what he looked like: tall, with a beard and usually a top hat. And perhaps the most well-known Abraham Lincoln fact is that he was assassinated while watching a play on April 14, 1865 by John Wilkes Booth.

Was Abraham Lincoln a True Crime Author?

But most people don’t know that “Honest Abe” wasn’t entirely honest when he penned a true crime story. That’s right, Abraham Lincoln was a true crime author!

His story is based on a real case from Lincoln’s days as a lawyer in Illinois, but has been exaggerated slightly for dramatic effect. The original article came from the Smithsonian Magazine, who noted, “the story as he told it here fits well with the facts of the case.”

Here’s an excerpt of Abraham Lincoln’s true crime story:

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“After dinner, the three Trailors and Fisher left the boarding house in company, for the avowed purpose of spending the evening together in looking about the town. At supper, the Trailors had all returned, but Fisher was missing, and some inquiry was made about him. After supper, the Trailors went out professedly in search of him. One by one they returned, the last coming in after late tea time, and each stating that he had been unable to discover any thing of Fisher. The next day, both before and after breakfast, they went professedly in search again, and returned at noon, still unsuccessful. Dinner again being had, William and Henry expressed a determination to give up the search and start for their homes. This was remonstrated against by some of the boarders about the house, on the ground that Fisher was somewhere in the vicinity, and would be left without any conveyance, as he and William had come in the same buggy. The remonstrance was disregarded, and they departed for their homes respectively.

Abraham Lincoln sitting“Up to this time, the knowledge of Fisher’s mysterious disappearance, had spread very little beyond the few boarders at Myers’, and excited no considerable interest. After the lapse of three or four days, Henry returned to Springfield, for the ostensible purpose of making further search for Fisher. Procuring some of the boarders, he, together with them and Archibald, spent another day in ineffectual search, when it was again abandoned, and he returned home. No general interest was yet excited.

“On the Friday, week after Fisher’s disappearance, the Postmaster at Springfield received a letter from the Postmaster nearest William’s residence in Warren county, stating that William had returned home without Fisher, and was saying, rather boastfully, that Fisher was dead, and had willed him his money, and that he had got about fifteen hundred dollars by it. The letter further stated that William’s story and conduct seemed strange; and desired the Postmaster at Springfield to ascertain and write what was the truth in the matter. The Postmaster at Springfield made the letter public, and at once, excitement became universal and intense. Springfield, at that time had a population of about 3500, with a city organization. The Attorney General of the State resided there. A purpose was forthwith formed to ferret out the mystery, in putting which into execution, the Mayor of the city, and the Attorney General took the lead. To make search for, and, if possible, find the body of the man supposed to be murdered, was resolved on as the first step. In pursuance of this, men were formed into large parties, and marched abreast, in all directions, so as to let no inch of ground in the vicinity, remain unsearched.

You can read the full original article from the Smithsonian Magazine here.

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