Abraham Lincoln to Joshua F. Speed, 25 December 18481Washington, Dec. 25– 1848.Dear Speed:
While I was at Springfield last fall, Wm Herndon showed me a couple of letters of yours concerning your note against Judge Browne–2 I suppose you and we (Logan & I) feel alike about the matter; that is, neither side likes to lose the money– You think the loss comes of our fault, and that therefore we should bear it; but we do not think it comes of our fault– We do not remember ever having had the note after you received the Auditor's warrants; and, after the most thorough search, we can no where find it– We know we have never received any thing on it– In what you say, as to the note being left with us, we do not question your veracity, but we think you may be mistaken, because we do not remember it ourselves, and because we can not find it– We, like you, would rather lose it, than have any hard thoughts– Now, whatever you are short of your due upon the note Judge Browne still owes, and he must be made to pay it– You mention in your letter that you have our receipt for the note– I wish you would, at once, send a copy of the receipt to Logan– Browne will most likely be at Springfield this winter, and I wish Logan to see by the receipt, whether
<Page 2>he or I, could, by reference to it, sufficiently describe the note, on oath, to recover on it as a lost instrument– If he decides we can, he will have a writ served on him while he is there, unless he will voluntarily pay it. Dont neglect to do this at once–
Nothing of consequence new here, beyond what you see in the papers– Present my kind regards to Mrs Speed–Yours as ever.A. Lincoln–
2After spending September 1848 on a speaking tour of Massachusetts, Lincoln returned to Illinois in October 1848, and spent most of the month canvassing his congressional district on behalf of Zachary Taylor. Lincoln was in Springfield on election day and several other days in November. He left Springfield for Washington in late November.
On 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 April 1848, Speed wrote Herndon requesting that Logan & Lincoln pay the remaining $86 or turn over to him the promissory note.
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; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:280-84; The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 7 November 1848, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1848-11-07; 26 November 1848, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1848-11-26.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Box 3, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL)