Abraham Lincoln to Levi Davis, 4 April 18361New Salem Ills, April 4th 1836Dear Sir
You will confer a favour on me by examining the Record kept by the old State Recorder, and ascertaining whether a deed for the N.W.[Northwest] quarter of Section 23, in Town[Township] 10 North Range 5 West in the Bounty tract made by Williamson Trent to Michael Mcdierman has ever been recorded in that office, and if so, whether the record shows that the land has been transfered by Mcdierman, and if it has, who is the present owner under him.2 Also please to give me all the information in your office in regard to sales of said land for taxes, and who is the present owner by tax title.3Verry Respectfully
Your Obt Servt[Obedient Servant]A. LincolnLevi Davis Esqr
<Page 2>Free— A. Lincoln P.M.[Postmaster]
New Salem Ills.4Mr Levi Davis EsqrVandalia Ills
April 4th 1836
April 4th 1836
1Abraham Lincoln wrote the entirely of this letter to Davis. The address, return address, and notation “Free” on the back page were also written by Lincoln.
2The land described here is in present-day Henderson County, near Oquawka.
The office of state recorder, which the Legislature created in 1827 and abolished in 1833, was established to keep a record of all deeds and title papers of Illinois lands owned by non-residents of the state.
“An Act Establishing a Recorder’s Office for the State,” 12 February 1827, Revised Laws of Illinois (1827), 378-80; “An Act Abolishing the Office of the State Recorder,” 18 January 1833, Revised Laws of Illinois (1833), 587-88.
3Illinois law levied a tax on real estate. Until 1833, Illinois’ state auditor and treasurer conducted land sales to cover unpaid property taxes; after 1833, county officials conducted the sales. As auditor, Levi Davis was required to keep accounts of all taxes due to and received by the state.
“An Act Supplemental to an Act, Entitled ‘An Act to Provide for Raising a Revenue,’” 19 January 1829, Revised Laws of Illinois (1829), 119-24; “An Act to Consolidate the Acts relative to the Auditor and Treasurer and Election of Attorney General,” 2 March 1833, Revised Laws of Illinois (1833), 103-07; “An Act concerning the Public Revenue,” 27 February 1833, Revised Laws of Illinois (1833), 528-34.
4Lincoln received free postage as a benefit of his appointment as postmaster of New Salem.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL)