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Ignorance of the law is no defense. How did Abraham Lincoln learn this fact?
04-21-2020, 04:14 PM (This post was last modified: 04-21-2020 04:42 PM by David Lockmiller.)
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RE: Ignorance of the law is no defense. How did Abraham Lincoln learn this fact?
(04-21-2020 02:54 PM)David Lockmiller Wrote:  
(04-21-2020 01:17 PM)RJNorton Wrote:  I am not sure this story fits what you are asking

You are correct, Roger. But I thought that the actual source that you would use was the book that both Gene and you recently recommended, A Lincoln, Prairie Lawyer. I will post that account in a different post later today. I purchased the book based on your joint recommendation and found the story on pages 4-5. I actually prefer John Duff's (the author) account; it is much more dramatic and one can imagine Abraham's Lincoln reaction as events unfolded.

The book's author, attorney John Duff, spoke as a good attorney would do in describing Abraham Lincoln's circumstances and situation at the time:

Working backward in time, one learns that in 1827 [Abraham Lincoln] had a foretaste of his future calling when hailed before Squire Samuel Pate, farmer and justice of the peace near Lewisport, Kentucky – charged, on the complaint of two licensed ferrymen, John and Lin Dill, with operating a ferryboat without a license, in violation of the Ohio River ferry ordinance. Unaware of any statutory restriction, Lincoln, having built a small flatboat, was transporting travelers, for hire, from the Indiana shore of the Ohio River to steamers in midstream. The complainants, owners of the duly licensed ferryboat operating from the Kentucky shore, after luring the unsuspecting Lincoln to their bank of the river, induced him to accompany them to the home of Squire Pate, where John Dill sued out a warrant.

Lincoln’s defense was ignorance of the law, which, as every layman now knows, is no defense at all. Squire Pate, doubtless impressed with the forthrightness of the youthful defendant, proceeded to consult the statue book and, after reading the pertinent section, came up with the legally sound observation that the statute was directed against transportation across the river, and not to steamers located in midstream. The proceeding was dismissed, whereupon Lincoln expressed his gratitude to the Squire, who invited him to attend his “court” whenever in the neighborhood, an invitation which one may be sure Lincoln was not slow in taking advantage of.

Oh, I wanted to add that Roger stole my thunder on Lincoln's "first dollar" story. I had already planned on making that story the subject of a follow-up trivia question. But Roger gave the answer before I asked the question. Roger was being prescient, no doubt.

But time, manner, and place are important in telling stories. The answer to the question that I would have posed is somewhere in the book (I believe), Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln, by Distinguished Men of His Time (1888). Lincoln was telling his "first dollar" story to Secretary of State Seward in a first-hand narrative form. I will find the story and post it as found, hopefully later today.

(04-21-2020 03:05 PM)Gene C Wrote:  I don't know about "ignorance of the law is no excuse", but I have often heard "you can't fix stupid"

Which reminds me of an old Frank Sinatra song, I can't recall the title, but I do remember it's something stupid

Beautiful song together that was dominated by the voice of Frank Sinatra, but in perfect harmony by Nancy Sinatra, almost like a "shadow" of his voice.

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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RE: Ignorance of the law is no defense. How did Abraham Lincoln learn this fact? - David Lockmiller - 04-21-2020 04:14 PM

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