Abraham Lincoln to Samuel D. Marshall, 30 December 18451Springfield, Decr 30. 1845 Friend Sam:
I learned to day, that Lane, to avoid paying the cost of taking the case between Dorman and him, back from the Supreme Court, has commenced a new proceeding in your circuit court–2 Write me, if this is so; and I together with judge Logan, will try to frame a plea either in bar or in abatement, out of the fact of the pendency of the old case, that shall blow them up with their new case–3 By the way, if they fail for more than year (which they have nearly done already) to take the old case down from here, I think we can pled plead limitation on them, so that it will stick for good and all.–4Dont speak of this, lest they hear it, and take the alarm–
Write me on receipt of this–5Yours as ever–A. Lincoln
<Page 2>SPRINGFIELD Ill.[Illinois]
5S. D. Marshall Esqr[Esquire]ShawneetownIllinois–
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed the letter. He also authored the address on the back page, which was folded to create an envelope for mailing.
2Abraham Lincoln represented William and Nancy Dorman in the Illinois Supreme Court case of Dorman et ux. v. Lane, on appeal from the Gallatin County Circuit Court, where Samuel D. Marshall had represented them. The Supreme Court delivered its opinion on January 29, 1845, reversing the decision and remanding the case back to the Gallatin County Circuit Court. Lane had not actually begun a new case, but had reinstated his petition in the lower court without first paying the costs of the appeal and obtaining the copy of the judgment of the Supreme Court.
Daniel W. Stowell et al., eds., The Papers of Abraham Lincoln: Legal Documents and Cases (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008), 1:264 270, 282-84; Abraham Lincoln to Samuel D. Marshall.
3A plea in bar denies the merit of the case, while a plea in abatement simply objects to the timing of the plaintiff’s claim.
Henry Campbell Black, Black’s Law Dictionary, 5th ed. (St. Paul, MN: West, 1979), 1037.
4Illinois law gave participants one year from the date of the decision to reverse in the Illinois Supreme Court in which to reinstate the case. Lane had until January 29, 1846, to reinstate his case.
“An Act for the Limitation of Actions and for Avoiding Vexatious Law Suits,” 10 February 1827, Revised Laws of Illinois (1827), 286; Daniel W. Stowell et al., eds., The Papers of Abraham Lincoln: Legal Documents and Cases, 1:284.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Vault MSS 563, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University (Provo, UT)