Abraham Lincoln to John T. Stuart, 29 January 18401Springfield, Jany 29 1840Dear Stuart:
You recollect I mentioned to you that I had secured our Truett debt by taking a new note with Myers as security—2 You also recollect that the old note was in your individual name, and was sent to Gilbreath at Dixon's—3 Myers came through Sprinfield and left the new note, and I sent an order toTruett on Gilbreath, to deliver up the old note, which Gilbreath refuses to do, as appears by the enclosed le letter from Truett, upon the ground that you, and not I, have control of the matter—4 Will you, on the receipt of this, immediately send an order to Truett at Dixon's on Gilbreath for the old note, framing it so that Truett will have to pay all cost and expense that may have accrued, before he gets the note— Dont neglect this, because Truett, as you will see by his letter, is verry anxious about it— 5
The outlines of things here are—
Internal Improvements down—
Canal down—Your friend as everA. Lincoln
A. Lincoln to John T. Stuart
2Lincoln made mention of this in a letter dated January 21, 1840.
3“Gilbreath” was probably Smith Gilbraith, clerk of the County Commissioners Court of Lee County.
5Stuart and Lincoln had successfully defended Henry B. Truett against the charge of murdering Jacob M. Early.
People v. Truett, Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, 2d edition (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009), http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Details.aspx?case=140184.
6In November 1839, Governor Thomas Carlin called the legislature into special session to modify the internal improvement system and deal with the state’s debt crisis brought on by the Panic of 1837. In December 1839, the state’s debt crisis forced the State Bank to suspend specie payments. Under provisions of the incorporation act and an act supplementary thereto, if the bank did not resume specie payments within sixty days after suspension, it would lose its charter. In his message to the General Assembly, Carlin insisted that the”general disapprobation of the people to the extent of the system,” and “the vast amount which has been and is daily expending upon costly, and at present, unnecessary work,” required modification of the internal improvement system. He also attacked the bank and demanded an investigation of its affairs. Despite Carlin’s hostility, the legislature passed an act on January 31, 1840, resuscitating the bank with, as Lincoln described in an earlier letter to Stuart, “some trifling modifications.” The act revived the bank’s charter and suspending stipulations on specie payments until the end of the next legislative session. The legislature also passed an act sustaining support for the Illinois and Michigan Canal.
The legislature was divided on the future of the internal improvement system. After over a month of proposals and counter-proposals, in late January 1840, both houses passed a bill repealing the act creating the internal improvement system, but the bill did not become law due to a technicality. In the meantime, the legislature passed an act settling the debts and liabilities of the system in preparation for its eventual termination, and an act abolishing the two governing boards, the Board of Fund Commissioners and the Board of Commissioners of Public Works.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:147; John H. Krenkel, Illinois Internal Improvements 1818-1848 (Cedar Rapids, IA: Torch, 1958), 159-64.
7Reference to the progress of the 1840 presidential election campaign.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Lincoln Collection, Chicago Historical Society (Chicago, IL)