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penders were home-made knitted ones, and finally, as he warmed up to his subject, one of them slipped from his shoulder, and he let it fall to his side, where it remained until he had finished speaking. In this 'backwoodsy' appearance he was about as homely, and awkward appearing person as could be imagined; but all this was forgotten in listening to his fiery eloquence, his masterly argument, his tender and pathetic pleading for the life of the son of his old benefactor. Tears were plentifully shed by every one present; the mother of Duff Armstrong, who was present, wore a huge sun-bonnet, her face was scarcely visible, but her feelings were plainly shown by her sobs.
As we were leaving the court room to pass into the jury room, I heard Mr. Lincoln tell Mrs. Armstrong that her boy would be cleared before sundown, which proved to be true. We were out less than an hour; only one ballot was taken, and that was unanimous for acquittal. After we rendered our verdict, Mr. Lincoln shook hands with Duff Armstrong and then led him to his mother and gave him a short lecture on making a man of himself and being a comfort to his mother, telling him to care for her and try to make as good a man as his father had been.”
Hon. J. Henry Shaw, an eminent lawyer, who practiced his profession in Cass county for many years, in writing an account of this trial said:
“He told the jury, of his once being a poor, friendless boy; that Armstrong's parents took him into their house, fed and clothed him, and gave him a home. There were tears in his eyes when he spoke. The sight of his tall, quivering frame, and the particulars of the story he so pathetically told, moved the jury to tears also, and they forgot the guilt of the defendant, in their admiration of his advocate. It was the most touching scene I ever witnessed."
* Only two instructions were given to the jury in behalf of the detendant, and these are in the handwriting of Mr. Lincoln. A fac simile of them appears in this paper.
The actual facts relative to the killing of Metzker are doubtless disclosed by these recitals in the letters to me of Mr. Brady, which are as follows:
“One of the witnesses in the Duff Armstrong case was Will Watkins, whose father lived near Petersburg, in Menard county. About two months after the Armstrong trial, T. B. Collins and myself were in the Watkins neighborhood buying cattle; Mr. Watkins sent his son Will with us, to help look up cattle. I recognized him as being the witness that Mr. Lincoln used to prove that Duff Armstrong did not have the sling-shot which was exhibited at the trial, in his possession. It naturally followed that we talked of the trial. Will Watkins told me that Mr. Lincoln sent for him to come to Springfield; he questioned him about the sling shot, and asked how it happened to be lost, and then found near the spot where Metzker was killed. He said he told Mr. Lincoln that when he laid down that night under the wagon to go to sleep, that he laid the sling shot upon the reach of the wagon, and in the morning, forgot to get it, and when the wagon was driven away, it dropped off at the place where it was found. Watkins said that he told Mr. Lincoln that he (Lincoln) did not want to use him (Watkins) as a witness, as he knew too much, and he began to tell Lincoln what he knew, and Mr. Lincoln would not allow him to tell him anything and said to Watkins: ‘All I want to know is this : Did you make that slingshot? and did Duff Armstrong ever have it in his posesion?' Watkins said he replied: "On cross-examination they may make me tell things I do not want to tell' and Mr. Lincoln assured him he would see to it that he was not questioned about anything but the slung-shot. Watkins told me that Duff Armstrong killed Metzker by striking him in the eye with an old fashioned wagon hammer and that he saw him do it. Watkins said that Douglass and all the other eight or ten witnesses for Armstrong who swore that Armstrong hit Metzker with his fist, all swore to a lie and they knew it, as they all
The City Hall of Beardstown, Ill., formerly the Court House of Cass County, in which Duff
Armstrong was tried for murder on May 7, 1858. knew he hit him with a wagon hammer. During the trial Allen testified that Duff Armstrong hit Metzker with a sling-shot and I felt he was telling the truth until Mr. Lincoln proved by the almanac that Allen was so badly mistaken about it being a bright moonlight night; then Allen's whole testimony was discredited.”
To arrive at a sensible conclusion in this matter, I will re-capitulate the facts:
Metzker was engaged in a personal conflict, with at least two opponents, about ten o'clock of the night of August 29th, he died on the third day thereafter. A. P. Armstrong, then 17 years of age, who was present at the scene of the encounter, and who attended the trial says that at the time Metzker dragged his brother Duff off the bench or table, he spit in his face; that Duff was under the influence of whiskey; that Metzker was a large and powerful man, and Duff was one of twins, weighed about 140 pounds and not nearly so strong as Metzker; that Allen in describing the encounter in court, illustrated the manner in which Duff delivered his blows, which A. P. Armstrong in my interview with him repeated to me, by raising his right hand as high as his face and striking an “over-hand” blow. Allen was not hostile to the Armstrong people, as he agreed with them to stay away from the trial; I have examined the records, and find that the State's Att'y caused an attachment to issue for him on May 6th, which was returned served into open court on the next day. Mr. Brady states that Allen impressed him, and the other members of the jury, as a truthful witness. Had he not made the mistake of his location of the position of the moon, it is altogether likely that the eloquence of Abraham Lincoln could not have saved his client from punishment. The files in the case show, that 15 witnesses appeared in behalf of the defendant, and it is very likely that “eight or ten" of them testified, as Will Watkins related to Mr. Brady a few weeks after the trial. A cousin of Will Watkins who