1845: Not William Weaver, defended by Abraham Lincoln

This date in 1845 was the appointed hanging of William Weaver, the first convicted murderer in Champaign County, Illinois.

While drunk, Weaver shot to death one David Hiltibrau and despite the able representation of one Abraham Lincoln was speedily convicted. (pdf)

Where the rail splitter failed, fortune prevailed.

“A few days — or nights rather — before that set for his execution,” we read,

a friendly auger passed to him afforded the means of escape. Just then delays were dangerous to poor drunken Bill Weaver, for Sheriff Lewis had the rope and scaffold ready, so he did not await a farewell word from friends, but sped away to the North, as the winds go. At that time the tangled forests and the untramped prairies afforded unexcelled means for seclusion and escape, and the condemned man, once a mile from town, might well bid farewell to every fear of being caught and hanged, as he doubtless did. Years afterward Weaver was heard from in far Northern Wisconsin, a useful, law-abiding citizen. No effort was ever made to bring him back from his delicious exile.

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