Abraham Lincoln to William H. Herndon, 13 December 18471Washington, Dec. 13. 1847Dear William:
Your letter advising me of the receipt of our fee in the Bank case, is just received, and I dont expect to hear another as good a piece of news from Springfield while I am away–2 I am under no obligation to the Bank; and I therefore wish you to buy Bank certificates and pay my debt there, so as to pay it with the least money possible– I would as soon you should buy them of Mr Ridgley or any other person at the Bank, as of any one else, provided you can get them as cheaply– I suppose after the Ba Bank debt shall be paid, there will be some money left, out of which I would like to have you to pay Lavely & Stout $20– and Priest & somebody (oil makers) $10–3 for materials got for house painting– If there shall still be any left, keep it till you see, or hear from me–
I shall begin sending documents so soon as can get them– I wrote you yesterday about a Congressional Globe– As you are all so anxious for me to distinguish myself, I have concluded to do so, before long–4Yours trulyA. Lincoln
Commissioner of Pensions–
2Lincoln represented the plaintiffs in Lafayette Bank of Cincinnati v. State Bank of Illinois, in which his clients collected over $14,000 in damages from the State Bank of Illinois.
Lafayette Bank of Cincinnati v. State Bank of Illinois, 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=137563.
3Lincoln may be referring to “Priest’s Oil Company,” which advertised in a Springfield, Illinois, newspaper in October 1847.
Illinois Journal (Springfield), 21 October 1847, 3:3.
4Lincoln was only a week into his term as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. On December 22, 1847, Lincoln “distinguished” himself from his peers by wading into the dispute over President James K. Polk’s justification for the Mexican War. He presented a series of resolutions calling on the president to provide Congress with the exact spot on which American blood was shed in clashes with Mexican forces that led to the declaration of war. Lincoln followed up these “Spot Resolutions” with a speech on January 12, 1848, attacking Polk’s justification for the war.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:264-65.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Massachusetts Historical Society (Boston, MA).