Big and small dramas play out every day in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Headquartered in Chicago, the court has played a pivotal role in U.S. history. This is where Abraham Lincoln, as a young lawyer, changed the direction of westward expansion when he argued that trains-not steamships-were America's future. This is where Al Capone met his fall, at a trial that finished him as Public Enemy Number One. And this is where Abbie Hoffman, the nation's first Yippie, butted heads with Judge Julius J. Hoffman and the Establishment at the trial known as the Conspiracy Eight.
A Court That Shaped America traces the flesh-and-blood courtroom scenes from the district's first cases in the early nineteenth century through the turn of the millennium. Historical figures--including Mormon leader Joseph Smith, inventor Thomas Edison, and author Mark Twain--as well as contemporary superstars like Michael Jackson and Oprah Winfrey have all had their day in the Northern Illinois court. Some were victorious; some came out scathed. This book examines these great trials and the people behind them to offer a unique look at Chicago and U.S. history.