Abraham Lincoln to Garland B. Shelledy, 16 February 18421Springfield, Ills. Feby 16— 1842—G. B. Shelody: Esqr[Esquire]
Yours of the 10th is duly received—2 Judge Logan & myself are doing business together now; and we are willing to attend to your cases as you propose—3 As to the terms, we are willing to attend each case you prepare and send us for $10— (where there shall be no opposition,) to be sent in advance, or you to know that it is safe—4 It takes $5.75 of cost to start upon, that is, $1.75 to clerk, and $2— to each of two publishers of papers— Judge Logan thinks it will takes the ballance of $20 to carry a case through—5 This must be advanced from time to time as the services are performed, as the officers will not act without— I do not know whether you can be admitted an attorney of the Federal court in your absence or not; nor is it material, as the business can be done in our names—
Thinking it may aid you a little, I send you one of our blank forms of Petitions— It, you will see, is framed to be sworn to before the Federal court clerk, and, in your cases, will have [to] be so far changed, as to be sworn to before the clerk of your circuit court; and his certificate must be accompanied with his officia[l] seal— The schedules too, must be attended to— Be sure that they are contain the creditors names, their residences, the amounts due each, the debtors
<Page 2>names, their residences, and the amounts they owe, also all property and where located—
Also be sure that the Schedules are signed by the applicants as well as the Petition—
Publication will have to be made here in one paper, and in one nearest the residence of the applicant—6 Write us in each case where this last advertisement is to be sent—whether to you or to what paper—
I believe I have now said every thing that can be of any advantages.Your friend, as everA. Lincoln
<Page 4>SPRINGFIELD Il.[Illinois]
FEB[February] 18G B. Shelody EsqrParisEdgar Co.Illinois
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter. He also wrote the address on the last page, which was folded to create an envelope.
3In April 1841, John T. Stuart and Lincoln formally dissolved their law practice, although Lincoln and Stephen T. Logan had been taking cases together since March. By May, Lincoln had formally become the junior partner of Logan. The Logan & Lincoln partnership was dissolved in 1844, when Logan took on his son as junior partner, and Lincoln went out on his own, engaging William H. Herndon as his junior partner.
Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 14 May 1841, 1:1; Webb v. Parrin, 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; Daniel W. Stowell et al., eds., Papers of Abraham Lincoln: Legal Documents and Cases (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008), 1:xxxiv-xxxv.
Shelledy’s cases involved petitioning for bankruptcy in federal courts. In 1841, the U.S. Congress responded to the Panic of 1837 by passing the first bankruptcy legislation in American history. Beginning on February 1, 1842, Illinoisans could apply for bankruptcy relief in the U.S. District Court in Springfield. Logan & Lincoln participated in at least 72 bankruptcy cases during 1842 and 1843. They filed bankruptcy petitions for debtors and their lawyers from throughout the state, including two for clients who resided in Edgar County, where Shelledy practiced law.
“An Act to Establish a Uniform System of Bankruptcy throughout the United States,” 19 August 1841, Statutes at Large of the United States 5 (1856):440-49; Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 20 May 1842, 1:4; 15 July 1842, 3:5; Daniel W. Stowell et al., eds., Papers of Abraham Lincoln: Legal Documents and Cases, 1:99-100.
4The bankruptcy law provided that if the majority of an applicant’s creditors opposed the application, the court could reject the application, thus denying bankruptcy protections to the debtor.
“An Act to Establish a Uniform System of Bankruptcy throughout the United States,” 19 August 1841, Statutes at Large of the United States 5 (1856):444.
5One of Lincoln’s bankruptcy clients, James Gambrel, paid his fee in firewood, delivery included.
6The Sangamo Journal published the bankruptcy notices in Springfield.
Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 21 January 1842, 4:1-4; 25 February 1842, 2:3.
Autograph Letter Signed, 4 page(s), Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL)