The son of Lincoln’s old friend and former employer, who had loaned him books, was charged with a murder committed in a riot at a camp-meeting. Lincoln volunteered for the defense.
A witness swore that he saw the prisoner strike the fatal blow. It was night, but he swore that the full moon was shining clear, and he saw everything distinctly. The case seemed hopeless, but Lincoln produced an almanac, and showed that at that hour there was no moon. "Then he depicted the crime of perjury with such eloquence that the false witness fled the court house."
One who heard the trial says: "It was near night when Lincoln concluded, saying, ‘If justice was done, before the sun set it would shine upon his client a free man.’"
The court charged the jury; they returned and brought in the verdict of "not guilty." The prisoner fell into his weeping mothers arms, says the writer, and then turned to thank Lincoln. The latter, looking out at the sun, said: "It is not yet sundown, and you are free."—From Lincoln’s Stories, by J. B. McClure.