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Nental rail system and in the process added to the stellar reputation that vaulted him into the White House less than four years laterRe creating the Effie Afton case from its unlikely inception to its controversial finale McGinty brilliantly animates this legal cauldron of the late 1850s which turned out to be the most conseuential trial in Lincoln's nearly uarter century as a lawyer Along the way the tall prairie lawyer's consummate legal skills and instincts are also brought to vivid life as is the history of steamboat traffic on the Mississippi the progress of railroads west of the Appalachians and the epochal clashes of railroads and steamboats at the river’s edgeLincoln's Greatest Case is legal history on a grand scale and an essential first act to a pivotal Lincoln drama we did not know was there I found it interesting to read this book set in our local area I did not know that the bridge across the Mississippi at Rock Island Illinois was the first one to cross the river It did not happen without turmoil and there were lawsuits and challenges for many years The steamboat operators were not happy with losing business and also felt that the river traffic was impeded by this bridge The powers that be in St Louis tried to derail this also but mainly it seemed because they wanted a bridge in that location The book was not a page turner but it was good background for someone living in western Illinois

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Lincolns Greatest Case

In the early hours of May 6 1856 the steamboat Effie Afton barreled into a pillar of the Rock Island Bridge the first railroad bridge ever to span the Mississippi River Soon after the newly constructed vessel crowded with passengers and livestock erupted into flames and sank in the river below taking much of the bridge with itAs lawyer and Lincoln scholar Brian McGinty dramatically reveals in Lincoln's Greatest Case no one was killed but the uestion of who was at fault cried out for an answer Backed by powerful steamboat interests in St Louis the owners of the Effie Afton uickly pressed suit hoping that a victory would not only prevent the construction of any future bridges from crossing the Mississippi but also thwart the burgeoning spread of railroads from Chicago The fate of the long dreamed of transc As a native son of Rock Island IL I learned about Lincoln s role in the Effie Afton steamboat case at sometime in my local schooling When I read a review of Lincoln s Greatest Case in the the Times and then saw it on the shelves of my neighborhood library I decided to read it I think that Mr McGinty s book could have made a decent article but there is not enough material to justify a book even a slim volume I managed to slog through the pages of numbing detail about the trial the design of the railroad bridge I would not recommend anyone to follow my example

Brian McGinty ô 3 review

Ontinental railroad lurked ominously in the background for if rails could not cross the Mississippi by bridge how could they span the continent all the way to the PacificThe official title of the case was Hurd et al v The Railroad Bridge Company but it could have been St Louis v Chicago for the transportation future of the whole nation was at stake Indeed was it to be dominated by steamboats or by railroads Conducted at almost the same time as the notorious Dred Scott case this new trial riveted the nation’s attention Meanwhile Abraham Lincoln already well known as one of the best trial lawyers in Illinois was summoned to Chicago to join a handful of crack legal practitioners in the defense of the bridge While there he succesfully helped unite the disparate regions of the country with a truly transconti A fascinating book about one of Lincoln s most important but little discussed trials The trial was that of Hurd et al v The Railroad Bridge Company and pits powerful Mississippi River steamboat interests against those of the nascent railroad companies In short a side wheeler steamboat the Effie Afton plows into the piers of a railroad bridge crossing over the Mississippi River at Rock Island between Illinois and Davenport Iowa The first bridge to be built over the river the results of the trial would determine the future of railroading in AmericaAuthor Brian McGinty does an excellent job weaving the history and future ramifications of the struggle between northsouth river commerce and eastwest railroad commerce into an entertaining and informative play by play of the trial Lincoln s role is actually frustratingly small but he plays a critical role in demonstrating the technical aspects of the case to the jury during closing argumentsThe book is well written and its brevity only about 200 pages makes it readable by anyone interested in Abraham Lincoln andor the birth of the railroads


10 thoughts on “Lincolns Greatest Case

  1. says:

    This is one of those books that you keep reading because you think it has to get better but never does This book is really about a court case between steamboat owners and bridge owners that Lincoln happens to be a part of but never really a central character I was expecting great examples of Lincoln's abilities in the courtroom How he wowed the world with this case Instead it was a lot of tedious information about lawyers judge

  2. says:

    A rather short book but the definitive account of the Effie Afton trial of 1857 which legal historian McGinty argues was the most important one of Abraham Lincoln's nearly 25 year career as a lawyer This is Hurd et al v The Railroad Bridge Co The steamboat Effie Afton owned by Hurd crashed into the RR bridge spanning the Mississippi River from Rock Island Illinois to Davenport Iowa and then caught fire Hurd sued for dama

  3. says:

    As a native son of Rock Island IL I learned about Lincoln's role in the Effie Afton steamboat case at sometime in my local

  4. says:

    A good little history book on a limited but important topic The book is well organized and reported The role of and importance to Lincoln are soundly explored There are connections to Lincoln's future and our Country's history disclosed in the story but I cannot give the fifth star Big parts of it is a discussion of a somewhat droll lawsuit T

  5. says:

    I chose this popular history book as the text for a collouium I taught at the 58th annual Washington State Judi

  6. says:

    A fascinating book about one of Lincoln's most important but little discussed trials The trial was that of Hurd et al v The Railroad Bridge Company and pits powerful Mississippi River steamboat interests against those of the nascent railroad companies In short a side wheeler steamboat the Effie Afton plows into the piers of a railroad bridge crossing over the Mississippi River at Rock Island between Illinois

  7. says:

    I love all things Abraham Lincoln and this was a good story about his participation in a trial pitting the steamboat industry agains

  8. says:

    Although I liked parts of this book this book is guilty of false advertisement Very little of the actual court case involves Lincoln I think he is mentioned once during the trial and then there are about 10 pages about Lincoln’s closing argument McGinty was clearly limited by his primary source material all the court records were destroyed in the Chicago Fire but Lincoln is by far the main character Also the trial ende

  9. says:

    I found it interesting to read this book set in our local area I did not know that the bridge across the Mississippi at Rock Island Illinois was the first one to cross the river It did not happen without turmoil and there were lawsuits and challenges for many years The steamboat operators were not happy with losing business and also felt that the river traffic was impeded by this bridge The powers that be in S

  10. says:

    TEDIOUS This book is an exhaustive legal history of a pivotal case in 1857 pitting the railroad vs river steamship commerce It does n