History on Trial is a series of presentations highlighting important but relatively unknown lawsuits in Illinois and American history. The purpose is to demonstrate that the law is a living, breathing element of society, and these cases continue to have relevance today.

The Retrial Collection

  • The Retrial of Mary Surratt (2011)

    Mary Elizabeth Jenkins was born in 1823 in Prince George’s County, Maryland. At an early age, she converted from the Episcopal faith to Roman Catholicism.

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  • The Insanity Retrial of Mary Todd Lincoln (2012)

    In 1875, Robert Lincoln, the only living son of martyred President Abraham Lincoln, petitioned to have his mother Mary Lincoln institutionalized for insanity.

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  • Habeas Corpus Hearings of Joseph Smith (2013)

    In the early 1840s, Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, had been accused of treason and of an assassination attempt against a former Missouri Governor.

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  • The Alton School Cases (2015)

    In 1897, Scott Bibb, an African American fireman at the Alton Glass Works Factory, petitioned for a writ of mandamus to allow his children to attend a school close to his home rather than a segregated school m ore than a mile away.

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  • The Black Sox (2022)

    Eight baseball players from the Chicago White Sox 1919 World Series team allegedly threw the series for money. A Cook County, Illinois jury in the conspiracy trial acquitted the players, but a new baseball commissioners banned them from playing baseball again due to their involvement with gamblers.

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