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Lincoln Apostate – The Matson Slave Case - University Press of Mississippi
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Lincoln Apostate: The Matson Slave Case

Charles R. McKirdy


In 1847, in a small rural courthouse in Coles County, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln represented a Kentucky slave owner named Robert Matson in his attempt to recover a runaway slave woman and her four children. Most Americans, even those with a penchant for the nation’s history, have never heard of this court case. This is no coincidence. Lincoln’s involvement in the case has troubled and bewildered most students and biographers of the “Great Emancipator.” In many assessments, the case inspires rationalizations and distortions; in others, avoidance and denial. These approaches are a disservice to t ... More

Keywords: Abraham Lincoln, Robert Matson, runaway slave, Great Emancipator, property rights, enslavement, Illinois, president, laws, judicial decisions

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2011 Print ISBN-13: 9781604739855
Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014 DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781604739855.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Charles R. McKirdy, author