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Bar association to re-enact Lincoln in murder trial

WOODSTOCK – In August 1859, Abraham Lincoln argued what would turn out to be his last case as a lawyer.

He appeared in Sangamon Circuit Court as defense attorney for murder defendant Peachy Quinn Harrison.

A few months later, in May 1860, Lincoln would accept the Republican Party nomination to run for president of the United States.

The story of that trial has been dramatized in “The Affray: Lincoln’s Last Murder Case,” which will be presented May 4 and 5 by the McHenry County Bar Association.

The idea for the local production came from Huntley lawyer and past county bar association President Michael J. Fleck, who saw the original production by Illinois Wesleyan University professors Robert Bray and Jared Brown in June in Bloomington. The bar association decided to present the play in conjunction with “Law Day” festivities.

The play draws from a handwritten transcript of the trial to draw a portrait of Lincoln as a shrewd courtroom advocate. This murder trial is the only case of Lincoln’s that left a complete transcript and offers a rare opportunity to see the future president as he really was.

Proceeds will go to Turning Point, McHenry County’s only comprehensive domestic violence agency and shelter; Court Appointed Special Advocates of McHenry County; Prairie State Legal Services, offering low-cost legal services to low-income individuals and families; and McHenry County Youth Services Bureau, which works to help local youth to make better choices and bring about positive change in families.

The play is directed by Kathie Comella and features a number of local attorneys, a judge and other actors, including Lincoln impersonator Max Daniels.

The show will be presented at Woodstock North High School, and tickets, which cost $20, are available by visiting

More information about “The Affray” is available by calling the McHenry County Bar association at 815-338-9559.


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