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Abraham Lincoln Seldom Told Stories -- Warren Bull

Abraham Lincoln Seldom Told Stories



Abraham Lincoln for the Defense -- Warren Bull

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Abraham Lincoln for The Defense

by Warren Bull (April 25, 2010)

Young Abraham Lincoln had to defend against a unique murder charge. One day the Trailor brothers and a friend arrived in Springfield, Illinois. The next day the brothers left alone. With Lincoln away rumors spread like a wildfire, the brothers fell out and a lynch mob stalked the streets of the city. Lincoln returned to find people set on a double hanging. Standing between the brothers and the hangman’s noose was Abraham Lincoln for the defense.

In paperback the novel garnered six five-star reviews on Amazon.com. It is based on an actual murder trial which so intrigued Lincoln that he was still writing about it five years later. Resolution of the case solved one mystery, but it created a greater question that, to this day, remains unanswered. The novel introduces Lincoln as a young attorney developing into the man who will become the great emancipator, a martyred president and one of the most beloved figures in American history.

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Reviews and Additional Notes on the book.


In the immensely readable "Abraham Lincoln for the Defense" by psychologist Warren Bull, one of Lincoln's most memorable trials is brought to life in this fictional novel based on real-life people and events. When three visitors to Springfield arrive in 1841, and one disappears, the remaining two turn on each other to create a trial that ignited the city and kept Lincoln contemplating its results even years later.

— University of Illinois Alumni Magazine July/August 2005.

"Amazing! It is like author Warren Bull was sitting at the defense table along side Abraham Lincoln."

— Dorothy Phoenix, retired librarian.


Back Story: Writing Lincoln’s Mystery (May 1, 2006)

When I wrote my first novel, Abraham Lincoln for the Defense (PublishAmerica 2003) I found that I was writing about Lincoln and writing with him too. After all, I discovered the Trailor murder case when I read about it in Lincoln’s Collected Works, Rutgers University, 1953-55. Lincoln wrote a letter to his best friend shortly after the end of the trial. He laid out the characters, the crime scene, the timeline, the physical evidence, the course of the trial and the verdict. He mentioned an interesting incident for the back story and used humor that was too good to pass up. I eventually used all of that in my novel. When I read about the events, I thought they would make a great mystery except that at that time Lincoln could not say (he did not yet know) who had done what to whom. Many questions were unanswered. The trial ended with one side swearing that bloody murder had been committed and the other side swearing that it had not. Reluctantly, I concluded that there was not enough information available to write a coherent novel, but Lincoln was not done yet.

I continued to read Lincoln’s collected writings and he next called my attention to the case in a newspaper editorial about the trial that he wrote five years later. By that time, he was able to resolve some of the mysteries unsolved at the end of the trial. He let me know who did what to whom but some questions remained unanswered. The resolution of some mysteries created a greater mystery than before. Lincoln thoughtfully listed all the issues that had not been explained, which I realized would have to be accounted for in a novel. Finally, he gave me advice about the novel by writing, “a writer of novels could bring the story to a more perfect climax.” Of course it was several years and a myriad of revisions before I managed to provide possible explanations for the issues and to invent an ending that tied up all the loose ends. I think Lincoln would approve. I certainly hope so. After all, it is his mystery.


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