Abraham Lincoln to Joshua F. Speed, 18 January 18431Springfield, Ills. Jany 18– 1843–Dear Speed:
It has been a long time since I wrote you last, but you have not been forgotten nevertheless– Hurst called on me yesterday, and as he said by your direction paid me $74–2 State Bank paper, $42– Shawneetown paper, and $2–59 cents silver–3 What shall I do with it? The Nesbitts have let the time of redemption run out on the land you bought on their execution, so that the land falls to you, and the cost is to be paid to the officer's somehow–4 Van Bergen placed his debt on Walters in our hands to collect and pay you– We foreclosed on Walter's house and lots and sold them & bought them in in your name– This sale, owing to the peculiarity of the case, was made without valuation or redemption, so that the property is now yours absolutely– But we suppose you would still prefer the money, and that Walters, (as he is reelected Public Printer) will wish to redeem it– We therefore suggest the propriety of your signing the blank document at the end of this
<Page 2>sheet, authorizing Col: Elkin to deed the property to Walters in case he shall redeem it– If he shall not so redeem it, there will be the cost to pay in that case too– It was sold for about $1200, the amount of Van's debt; but although you are the ostensible purchaser, we have a secret contract with Van that he is purcher[purchaser] for so much of the purchase money as is over and above what will pay you–5
I have just called on judge Browne, & find that he will pay nothing but Auditors warrants, which of course I can not receive– I wish you would direct me to bring a suit [
on?] [ ...?] against him at once6
Your brother James sent us a note on Bell & Boice, which you had assigned to your Brother William– Ask James to write me whether we shall sue Boice, now that Bell is dead–7
Mary is very well and continues her old sentiments of friendship for you– How the marriage life goes with us I will tell you when I see you here, which I hope will be very soon–Ever your friendA. Lincoln
Of course the order below is not to be used unless Walters pays the money–
Whereas at a sale of Lots 14-15 & 16 in Block 7 in E. Ile's addition to the late town now city of Springfield Illinois, made by William F Elkin as commissioner under a Decree of the Sangamon Circuit court, I became the purchaser of said lots, now therefore for value received of William Walters, I authorize and direct said Elkin to convey said lots by deed to said Walters, or to any other person that said Walters may direct– Witness my hand and seal this day of A.D. 1843.
<Page 4>[SPRI]NGFIELD Il.
[?]Mr Joshua F. SpeedSalinaJefferson co.Kentucky
replied to 27 Jany 1843
gave Walters right to redeem if done immedyatly
gave Walters right to redeem if done immedyatly
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed the letter, including the order on page 3 and the address on page 4, which was folded to create an envelope for mailing. Joshua Speed authored the docketing on the back page.
3Hurst purchased Speed’s interest in James Bell & Co. in 1841.
Joshua F. Speed to William H. Herndon, 17 September 1866, in Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis, eds., Herndon’s Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements about Abraham Lincoln (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998), 342.
4In 1841, a jury awarded $60 in damages from James Nesbitt to James Bell and Speed, as partners in James Bell & Co. On January 4, 1842, the Sangamon County sheriff, in order to satisfy the judgment, sold 102 acres of Nesbitt’s land in Clear Lake Township of Sangamon County. Illinois law allowed a defendant whose property was sold to redeem the property within 12 months of the sale by paying the purchase price plus 10% interest. If a defendant failed to redeem his property, any of his judgment creditors were authorized to redeem the property under the same conditions, within 15 months of the original sale.
James Bell & Co. v. Nesbitt, 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=138203; “An Act concerning Judgments and Executions,” 17 January 1825, Laws of Illinois (1825), 151-60.
5 Peter Van Bergen had sold three lots in Springfield, Illinois, to William Walters for $1,000, and Walters paid with a promissory note secured by a mortgage on the property. Van Bergen then assigned the promissory note to Speed. At the November 1842 term of the Sangamon County Circuit Court, Logan & Lincoln brought suit against Walters to foreclose the mortgage. Walters failed to appear, and the court ruled for VanBergen and Speed, awarding $1,155 in damages. Walters failed to pay the judgment, and Speed purchased the lots at auction. Walters later redeemed the lots by paying Lincoln, who kept a record and forwarded the payments to Speed.
VanBergen for use of Speed v. Walters et al., 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=138194; Abraham Lincoln to Joshua F. Speed.
6On January 22, 1842, Thomas C. Browne gave Speed a promissory note for $318.57, bearing interest at 12 percent. Speed apparently retained Logan & Lincoln to collect the debt and left the promissory note in their custody. During this time, following the Panic of 1837, hard currency was scarce; Browne likely wanted to pay in State of Illinois auditor’s warrants because he could not put together the necessary hard currency to pay the debt. In 1844, Logan & Lincoln forwarded to Speed auditor’s warrants from Browne totaling $318. In 1848, Speed requested that Logan & Lincoln pay the remaining $86 or turn over to him the promissory note. Lincoln asserted that neither he nor Logan had the promissory note, and that Browne should be made to pay the remaining debt.
Speed asked Lincoln & Herndon to collect debt, 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=141237; Abraham Lincoln to Joshua F. Speed.
7On January 9, 1842, Bell & Boice assigned to Joshua F. Speed a promissory note for $985.14, payable at one year with six percent interest. Speed assigned the note to his brother, and at the March 1843 term of the Sangamon County Circuit Court, Lincoln brought suit against Nicholas Boice for William Speed. Boice failed to appear, and the court awarded Speed $1,056.39 in damages.
Speed v. Boice, 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=138289.
Autograph Letter Signed, 4 page(s), Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL)