Abraham Lincoln to a Gentleman in Tremont, 31 July 18431Dear Sir–
Your letter of the 27th inst. is received.2 I have consulted with Judge Logan on the question whether the 20 acres deeded by Harris will revert in case the county seat is removed, and after a good deal of reflection he thinks it a doubtful question. He says that where land is conveyed for the purpose of erecting public buildings on it, if those buildings are removed from it or abandoned as public buildings, the land reverts—but if not conveyed for that purpose, it will not revert by such removal or abandonment. Now in this case the deed does not show the land to have been conveyed for the purpose of erecting public buildings on it, while the law to which the deed refers provides for receiving the donation for the express purpose of erecting public buildings on it,—so that if the object of the conveyance is to be collected from the deed, it will not revert—while, if it be collected from the law, it will revert. My own impression is, that the object of the conveyance is properly collected from a consideration of the deed and the law both together, and consequently that the land will revert, in case the county seat shall be removed.3Yours, &c.[etc.]A. LINCOLN.
1The text of Abraham Lincoln’s letter was printed on a broadside disseminated in Tazewell County, arguing against moving the county seat from Tremont to Pekin. The authors of the broadside argued that if the seat was moved, the twenty acres in Tremont that had been deeded for the courthouse would revert back to its previous owner, John H. Harris.
Another version of the broadside exists which is slightly different; however, the text of Lincoln’s letter is the same on both. No handwritten version of the letter has been located, nor has the recipient of the letter been identified. The text of the broadside identifies the date of the letter as July 31, 1843.
Printed Transcription, 1 page(s), B-152, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).