Other Accounts of the Trial

Several other accounts of this trial have been recorded and published over the years.  Here are the ones we have found useful.
The Papers of Abraham Lincoln: Legal Documents and Cases, 4 vols. (University of Virginia Press, 2008) The first chapter, "In re Bryant et al," in Volume 2 by Christopher Schnell is the best description of the trial to date.  The multi-volume set is expensive, so check for it on interlibrary loan.
 
 
An honest calling : the law practice of Abraham Lincoln
An Honest Calling: The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln by Mark E. Steiner Northern Illinois University Press (August 31, 2006) Another excellent resource about Lincoln and this trial from the viewpoint of how it connects in Lincoln's career. This book is also available on interlibrary loan
 
 
This site is part of Localités/Localities and/or Coles County Legal History Project. from Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois.
  
Chapter VI; History of Coles County, Illinois by Charles Edward Wilson, 1905  This brief account titled "Early Abolitionists- Defeat of a Projected Kidnapping Case" relies heavily on Orlando b. Ficklin's account of the trial.  Ficklin represented Ashmore and the Bryants.
 
Photographic Images and the History of African Americans in Coles County Illinois  was an exhibit at the Tarble Arts Museum at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois which featured a section on the Matson Slave Trial.

Michael Burlingame's long-awaited Abraham Lincoln: A Life, published in 2008 by the Johns Hopkins University Press in two large volumes and nearly 2,000 pages, is believed by many Lincoln scholars to be the most exhaustively researched and fully documented biography of Abraham Lincoln ever written.  He talks about the Matson Trial in Chapter 7.  There are some details that he got wrong in the story, but his overall analysis of Lincoln's participation is interesting.
 
Rutherford, Hiram. Letter of Dr. Hiram Rutherford to John Bowman, October 25, 1847. Oakland . Hendrick, Willene and George Hendrick, eds. On the Illinois Frontier: Dr. Hiram Rutherford, 1840-1848. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1981, 1847. [format: book], [genre: letter]. Permission: Northern Illinois University.  This is the only primary document about this trial outside of the legal records.
 
D. T. McIntyre Article on Matson Slave Trial  McIntyre was a Charleston lawyer who appears to have known Dr. Hiram Rutherford very well. This account was published in The Oakland Weekly Ledger on July 17,1906 (I think, it is fairly illegible) and again in the Tuscola Review on Sept. 7, 1922. It seems to represent Dr. Rutherford's telling of the story and is the most colorful account of the trial.  McIntyre would have been a boy in 1847 and did not yet live in Coles County.
 
 
Abraham Lincoln and Slavery: Transcribed Documents, p.2-3   This is a pdf of transcriptions of documents written by or about Lincoln that reflect his views on slavery, included is an article by Lincoln biographer, Jesse Weik, that recorded Rutherford's recollections that appreared in "Lincoln and the Matson Negroes: A Vista into the Fugitive Slave Days," The Arena (April 1897). The pdf was made by Stephen Berry, professor of History 101 at University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.  It also has Lincoln's opinion of the Dred Scott decision which covered the same issue as the Matson trial - was living in a free state equal to freedom?
 
 
Mr. Lincoln and Freedom The Lincoln Institute has created this website that describes some of Lincoln's legal cases, including the Matson Slave Trial. It relies on John J. Duff's writings in A. Lincoln: Prairie Lawyer.

Lincoln Apostate: The Matson Slave Case by Charles R. McKirdy, University Press of Mississippi (April 4, 2011).  An attorney and historian, has devoted the first book entirely to the Matson Slave Trial.  He does a good job of detailing the trial and many of the people involved.  He concludes that Lincoln chose to be involved in the case because of his personal friendship with Usher Linder. This book is also available on interlibrary loan
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