Abraham Lincoln to Frederick A. Thomas, 21 April 18421Springfield, April 21 1842—Friend Thomas:
Yours of the 11th Inst was received som[e] days since.2 As to the Rules, it would be useless to send you copy; in asmuch as the Supreme court of the U.S. have adopted a set of Rules, which supercede, the rules adopted by the District court— The Supreme court Rules have not yet reached us— The personal attendance here of your friend Dr Flanders is not absolutely necessary— When you get hold of the rules, make out his papers according to them, and send them to me, and I will do my part here, for whatever you charge him for doing your part there—3 One thing bear constantly in mind; tha[t] is, that unless I am furnished with money to pay cost as the case progresses, I can not move an inch— and State Bank paper will not do, at that—4 The whole cost, exclusive of lawyer's fees, will be, as we think, about $20. in something at least as good as Shawnee—5Yours &c[etc.]A. LincolnP.S. Tell J. K. Dubois he must come to the Legislature again; that I am off the track, and that the wheels of Government will inevitably stop with with out the aid of one of us—6A. L—
<Page 2>[S]PRIN[GFIELD] [Il.]
[?]F. A. Thomas Esqr[Esquire]LawrencevilleLawrence co.Illinois
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter. He also wrote the address on the back page; the paper was folded to create an envelope.
3Thomas’s cases involved petitioning for bankruptcy in the federal court. 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. They filed two for clients who resided in Lawrence County, Thomas’s home, including for Dr. Flanders.
“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 (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008), 1:99-100; In re Flanders, 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=137807; In re Kyger, Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Details.aspx?case=137819.
4The State Bank collapsed in February 1842. In April, the paper currency produced by the bank had depreciated to forty-four cents on the dollar. The General Assembly closed the bank’s operations in 1843.
Roy P. Basler, ed., Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 1:286, n3; Charles Hunter Garnett, State Banks of Issue in Illinois (Champaign: University of Illinois, 1898), 38, 40-41.
5At this point, the Bank of Illinois at Shawneetown was also on the verge of insolvency, but its notes had depreciated less than ten percent. The Bank of Illinois would fail in June.
Roy P. Basler, The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, 1:286, n3; Charles Hunter Garnett, State Banks of Issue in Illinois, 38.
6Dubois, a Whig, had represented Lawrence County in the 9th, 10th, and 11th General Assemblies, serving alongside Lincoln. Dubois did not run in 1840, and Lincoln’s final term in the General Assembly had ended March 1, 1841. Dubois ran for and won election to the House again in August 1842.
John Clayton, comp., Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 204, 205, 207, 208-09, 211; Theodore C. Pease, ed., Illinois Election Returns, 1818-1848, vol. 18 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1923), 338, 373.
Copy of Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Association Files, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL)