Abraham Lincoln to Thomas J. Turner, 8 February 18501Springfield, Feb: 8. 1850.Hon: T. J. TurnerDear Sir:
I have been examining your Bill, and studdying the case some to-day–2 There is some confusion in the description of the land, as given in the Bill; which I suppose comes by mistake– To enable me to correct this, before filing the Bill, send me an exactly accurate description of all the tracts– I do not think any Injunction will be necessary pending the suit; and consequently no bond is necessary except the ordinary bond for cost, a blank for which I herewith send you– Have the bond filled; and executed by some one for whose responsibility you can vouch, and send it back to me–3
Were our men actually in possession of the land at the time it was conveyed by Denny to Bradshaw? Are we obliged to put Bradshaw on his oath? Can we not prove our case without?
Please answer these questions when you write me–4Your as everA. Lincoln
5Hon: Thos J. TurnerFreeportIllinois–
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter, including the address on the last sheet, which was folded to create an envelope.
2Thomas J. Turner enclosed a bill of chancery in a letter to Lincoln dated December 5, 1849. Neither Turner’s letter nor the bill have been located.
4Lincoln is referencing a lawsuit involving John H. Kemper, Adam Adams, and John Bovey. Kemper recovered a judgment against William F. Bradshaw, and the U.S. marshal sold Bradshaw's land in Ogle County, Illinois, to satisfy the judgment. Bradshaw conveyed the land to Adams and Bovey. Adams and Bovey had possession of the land that Kemper claimed to own by virtue of the judgment. Kemper sued Adams and Bovey in an action of ejectment in the U.S. Circuit Court, District of Illinois, to remove them from the property. Adams and Bovey retained Lincoln, Turner, and Solon Cumins; Kemper retained Stephen T. Logan. Lincoln and his fellow attorneys for the defense argued that the time during which Kemper could sue had expired. The Circuit Court found for Kemper, and Adams and Bovey motioned for a new trial. The court granted the motion, and the jury found for Kemper. Adams and Bovey apparently sued Kemper for an injunction to stop the execution of the judgment, and in March 1858, the U.S. Circuit Court, Northern District of Illinois, ruled for Adams and Bovey. Lincoln received $100 for his legal services.
Lincoln received Turner’s return letter on April 22, 1850. Turner’s letter has not been located, but he must have answered Lincoln’s questions because Lincoln noted in a letter of April 26 that he had corrected the mistakes in the land descriptions and filed the bill.
Between 1850 and 1858, Lincoln wrote Turner nine letters relating to this case. He also corresponded with Adams, Bovey, and Cumins.
For the letters related to this case, see Kemper v. Adams & Bovey, 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=140935.
Autograph Letter Signed, 1 page(s), Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).