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Country Bumpkin Lawyer Surprises His Legal Team

In the 1840s a court case based in Chicago captured the attention of the entire nation. Labeled "The Reaper Case," it centered on the patenting of farm equipment invented by Cyrus McCormick. At the time the case had such high-stakes that legal rock stars from the East Coast trekked to the Midwest to take on the case. But since the judge was from Illinois, these Ivy League trained lawyers decided to add a local lawyer to their legal team. So after working their networks, they found an obscure, small town lawyer to join their high-powered team.

When the high-powered, sophisticated Ivy League lawyers met their new teammate, they were stunned. He was poorly dressed and disheveled. He spoke with a strong small town accent and used folksy vernacular phrases. In short, he was a country bumpkin. One of the team's leading lawyers, a man named Edwin Stanton, said in this small town lawyer's presence, "Let's do away with this ape." Then they did what any immature men would do. They ditched him. They would have meals without him. They would tell him different times for the court case to be tried, and then they would get there earlier and the court case would be going on. They viewed him as someone of very significant insignificance.

Stanton won the case. He went on to become one of the leading lights in the American legal profession and politics. As a matter of fact, he became the Secretary of War during the Civil War. But much to his shock he went to work for the one he called "ape." It was Abraham Lincoln, whose incredible significance was not known until the very last years of his life.

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