DATE: September 6, 2006 CONTACT: Laura Kiernan
Judicial Branch
Communications Director
603-271-2646 ext 359




CONCORD—Frank J. Williams, the Chief Justice of Rhode Island and one of the nation’s leading scholars on the life and times of Abraham Lincoln, will deliver the John W. King Memorial Lecture on September 14 at the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

            A founding chairman of the Lincoln Forum, a national organization dedicated to the study of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, Williams also has amassed one of the largest collections of Lincoln memorabilia in the country, including a first printing of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, signed by President Lincoln. He also helped initiate the Lincoln Legal Papers Project, which focused on Lincoln’s career as an attorney and he was appointed by Congress to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission which will commemorate Lincoln’s 200 th birthday in 2009. His book, “Judging Lincoln,” is a collection of essays about the 16 th President delivered over the past 20 years. With Edna Greene Medford and Harold Holzer, he authored “The Emancipation Proclamation: Three Views,” published by the Louisiana State University Press in the spring.

            “Chief Justice Williams is an engaging and uniquely informed speaker and we are proud to have him as a guest in the King lecture series,” Chief Justice John T. Broderick Jr. said.

             Williams was appointed Chief Justice of Rhode Island in 2001, after serving for five years on the Superior Court.   He was awarded the bronze star   for his U.S. Army service in Vietnam, and is an adjunct professor at the U.S. Naval War College and Roger Williams University School of Law. In 2003, he was named by President Bush through Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld to a Military Commissions review panel for tribunals involving detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.   

            Chief Justice Williams has titled his lecture for the King series   “An Evening with Abraham Lincoln” and his remarks will be followed by a question and answer session. Information about public seating is available from the Court Communications Office at 603-271-2646, ext 362.

            The first King lecture was delivered in 1999 by U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, a longtime member and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who spoke about federal law and protections against domestic violence. Linda Greenhouse, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court for the New York Times, spoke in 2004 about her work on a book based on the papers of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun. Last year, the King lecture was delivered by U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos who spoke about Human Rights and America’s legacy in international relations. Lantos is co-chairman of the bi-partisan Congressional Human Rights Caucus.

            The King lecture is co-sponsored by the New Hampshire Supreme Court and the New Hampshire Bar Foundation, which supports the event through a grant provided by Bar Foundation’s Advancement of Justice and Richard P. Dunfey Funds. The Bar Foundation, a non-profit, charitable foundation established in 1977, has funded the King lecture since it was launched in 1999. The intent of the King lecture is to promote public understanding of the role that the law plays in our society and throughout the world community.  

            The King lecture program was established by the Supreme Court as an occasion to focus on contemporary legal topics of importance to political leaders and the community as well as to the legal profession.   The event is seen as an opportunity for the judiciary to strengthen its relationship with other branches of government and to the statewide community by providing a forum for sharing information about law and society.

            John W. King served as governor of New Hampshire from 1963 to 1969 and then served 10 years as a trial court judge before he was appointed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.    He was named Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1981, a position he held until his retirement in 1986.   He died in 1996.

            Judges, lawyers, legislators and citizens from around the state have been invited to attend the event, which begins with a reception at 6:30 p.m. followed by the lecture.