Abraham Lincoln to David A. Smith, 20 February 18511Springfield, Feb: 20– 1851D. A. Smith, Esq[Esquire]Dear Sir:
I learn that Caldwell has execu[ted his] bond and qualified under the decree– I am now anxio[us to] know whether the arrangement has been made to your sat[isfac]tion; and I do not like to ask Caldwell– Will you writ[e me] by return mail?–2Yours as everA. Linco[ln]
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter.
The right side is damaged. The supplied text is from The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Roy P. Basler, editor of The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, retrieved the text as reconstructed by Paul M. Angle in New Letters and Papers of Lincoln.
Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 2:100; Paul M. Angle, comp., New Letters and Papers of Lincoln (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1930), 78.
2David A. Smith responded to Lincoln on February 21, but Smith’s letter is not extant.
Smith was an appellee and the attorney of appellee Albert G. Caldwell in a lawsuit against Moses G. Atwood in the Illinois Supreme Court.
Atwood first brought suit against Smith, Caldwell, and others in December 1849 in the chancery division of the Madison County Circuit Court. In February 1843, the Illinois General Assembly enacted legislation liquidating the State Bank of Illinois. Pursuant to the twelfth section of that act, the Madison County Circuit Court appointed Smith, Caldwell, and others as appraisers to appraise the value of the bank’s real property in Madison County, Illinois, and arrange its sale. On October 16, 1849, the appraisers appraised blocks thirty, thirty-one, and thirty-two of Smith’s addition--twenty-eight and one quarter acres--in Alton, Illinois, at $480.25. Atwood offered the bank $500 for the land. The bank refused, and Atwood sued Smith, Caldwell, and the bank's other assignees in the Madison County Circuit Court, asking for injunction against the assignees to prevent their selling of the land to other parties and to enforce conveyance of the land to him. The circuit court dismissed Atwood's case, and he appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court. The Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal, Justice Samuel H. Treat in his opinion stating that the bank was obligated by statute to abide by the appraisal of court-appointed appraisers and that the bank was not bound to accept Atwood's appraisal. Treat also affirmed that the bank's assignees had made a proper appraisal and had ordered a public sale. Atwood had an opportunity to buy the property at the sale and had no grounds for complaint against the assignees. Other than this letter about resolution of the appeal, Lincoln corresponded no further with either Smith or Caldwell, and his role in the appeal is not clear. Lincoln’s name was not included as one of the attorneys in the printed ruling of the Supreme Court.
Atwood v. Caldwell et al., 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=137453; Atwood v. Caldwell et al., Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Details.aspx?case=137454; Paul M. Angle, comp., New Letters and Papers of Lincoln, 78; Moses G. Atwood, Appellant, v. Albert G. Caldwell, et al., 12 Ill. (Peck) (1850) 95-98; “An Act to Reduce the Public Debt One Million of Dollars, and put the Bank of Illinois into Liquidation,” 25 February 1843, Laws of Illinois (1843), 35.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Chicago Historical Society (Chicago, IL).