SWETT AS A LAWYER
As a young man it was said that Mr. Swett greatly resembled Abraham Lincoln in personal appearance. He was tall, angular, and dark, with prominent features strikingly like his great friend’s. The coincidence in physical similitude extended in a considerable degree to the mental characteristics of the two men. He possessed the same class of humor and often employed the same quaint, epigrammatic methods of expressions peculiar to Mr. Lincoln.
As a lawyer Mr. Swett stood in the front rank in the Northwest. His special excellence lay in the direction of the trial of cases and possibly in the handling of criminal cases. As a speaker he had few or no superiors at the bar. He required scarcely any preparation, and he was always ready with imagination, humor, and pathos in abundance. He possessed the subtle power to touch effectively men’s emotional natures.
His first murder case was that of a young man at Shawneetown. The boy had shot down the clerk of the court because the clerk had posted some scurrilous matter about his father. Lincoln had first been engaged to defend the boy, but he had said that Swett was the man to defend that case, and he had come. Among the young lawyers who crowded the courtroom to hear the defense were John A. Logan and Robert Ingersoll. Mr. Swett put in the defense of temporary insanity. It was the first time that defense had been urged in this country, and it was successful.