Abraham Lincoln to Samuel R. Lowry, 17 August 18501Springfield, August 17. 1850Mr S. R. Lowry.2Dear Sir:
Your letter of the 13th was received a day or two ago, and I now proceed to answer it–3 Your first question is "What is lacking to perfect a title on the part of the defendants?" Answer– The defendants, so far as I know, do not claim to have any title, except a tax-title; and this the court has decided to be insufficient; and I know nothing the defendants can do to perfect this title– I do not know what you mean by "the conveyances sent by mail"– The deed purporting to be made some years ago, at St Louis, by Page (the Patentee) to Ryan, we had at the trial, and still have–4 That deed, in the hands of these defendants, was sought to be used as evidence of what the lawyers call an outstanding title—that is, a title owned by neither plaintiff nor defendants– The trouble with this deed was, that the plaintiff proved it to be a forgery; and I see no way in which the defendants can ever succeed unless they can somehow prove that this deed is not a forgery– This is the whole story– The case can not be gained by much talking–
A new trial was allowed upon the payment of costs; and, until the costs are paid, the defendants are liable at any non moment to be put out of possession at any moment the plaintiff may see fit to order out a writ; which, however, he has not yet done– The amount of the cost is $25–82 cents, as the clerk informs me–5Yours &c[etc.]A. Lincoln–
2Roy P. Basler, editor of The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, lists the recipient as Samuel R. Lowry, a resident of Peoria, Illinois, without attribution. Contemporary newspapers indicate there was a Samuel Lowry who was active in the Whig Party of Peoria County and Illinois in the late 1830s and early 1840s, but the editors were not able to link this Lowry to this letter. Provenance of the original letter suggests instead that the recipient was Samuel R. Lowry of Rushville, who moved to Minnesota later in life and is buried in Minneapolis.
Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 2:92-93; Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 23 December 1837, 3:1; 4 October 1839, 2:5; 11 October 1839, 2:5; Gravestone, Samuel R. Lowry, Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis, MN.
5This is the only extant document related to this case and, therefore, the details are unknown. An unknown plaintiff sued unknown defendants in an action of ejectment to remove them from some real property. The defendants retained Lincoln. The plaintiff proved that the deed on which the defendants relied had been forged. The court ruled for the plaintiff. The defendants motioned for and received a new trial, but the resolution of the case is unknown.
Unknown v. Unknown, 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=141102.
Copy of Autograph Letter Signed, 1 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Association Files, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum [Springfield, IL].