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Abraham Lincoln to David A. Smith, 28 March 18511
Dear Smith
On yesterday evening we argued and submitted the Bank certificate question–2 I learn that Davis will probably not decide it for a week or [so] when he will send the decision down from the [court]3 Logan entered his motion merely [for] satisfaction to the extent of the notes & certif[icates] received, m taking no notice of the tender– [which] I suppose will test the question just [as] well– He also thinks there may be a [differ]ence between notes and certificates; and the[re]fore urged me, and I consented, that you should ascertain the exact separate am[ounts] of each, which you have received, and se[nd] it up, so that it can be got into t[he] record– He also pressed me to agree that the certificates are in the form given in the Sec:[Section] of the Act of 1843–4 I agreed to this, [on] condition that my agreement should go for nothing, if the fact is really otherwise–5 W[rite] on all this–
One other little matter– I am short of [funds] and intended to ask ColDunlap for my [fee] in the case in the U.S. court, but he lef[t sooner] th[an I ex]pected– He is in no default [with me] for he once mentioned the subject to me, [and I] passed it by– But I now need the money [and] I will take it as a favor if you will s[how] him this note & get him to send it to me– We never agreed on the amount; but I cl[aim] $50– which I suppose neither he or you will think unreasonable–6
Yours trulyA. Lincoln
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter. The original letter is damaged. The supplied text is from Roy P. Basler’s, The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Basler retrieved the text as reconstructed by Paul M. Angle, in New Letters and Papers of Lincoln, but revised Angle’s text in some instances.
Paul M. Angle, ed., New Letters and Papers of Lincoln (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1930), 78-79; Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 2:104-5.
2This relates to the case Dunlap v. Smith & Dunlap, a case which was brought before the Illinois Supreme Court on appeal of the Sangamon County Circuit Court's ruling in the case Smith & Dunlap v. Dunlap.
The original suit revolved around the issue of a debt James Dunlap incurred to the Bank of Illinois. In February 1843, James Dunlap gave the Bank of Illinois a promissory note for $131,480.52, to be paid in State of Illinois bonds in sixty days. He defaulted on this debt in April 1843, and the bank went into bankruptcy. In April 1845, David A. Smith and George A. Dunlap received the promissory note in the form of a stock note, as assignees of the bank. They sued to collect on the note in December 1850, and, later that month, the Sangamon County Circuit Court ruled in their favor, awarding $38,361.93. Unsatisfied with this amount, Smith, who was an attorney himself, and George Dunlap retained Lincoln and William H. Herndon, who appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court, also in December 1850. Lincoln argued that the lower court erred in estimating the damages at $0.20 on the dollar, insisting that the court should have estimated the damages at $0.30 on the dollar. In late December 1850, the Illinois Supreme Court rejected Lincoln's argument and affirmed the Sangamon County Circuit Court’s judgment. Justice Samuel H. Treat stated that James Dunlap was liable “only for [the notes’] real, not their nominal value,” and that the proper damages consisted of the “difference between the contract price and the market value of the article when the delivery ought to have been made.”
Smith & Dunlap v. Dunlap, 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=138787; Smith & Dunlap v. Dunlap, 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=138786; Opinion, Document ID: 96949, Dunlap v. Smith & Dunlap, 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=138785.
3James Dunlap paid $28,127.35 to Smith and George Dunlap, then motioned the Sangamon County Circuit Court to allow that payment to satisfy the judgment against him. Soon after Lincoln wrote this letter, David Davis, presiding judge of the Sangamon County Circuit Court, made a ruling on James Dunlap’s motion.
Opinion, Document ID: 96949, Dunlap v. Smith & Dunlap, 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=138785.
4This is a reference to the Illinois state law passed by the Illinois General Assembly on February 25, 1843. Although Lincoln left the space for specifying the exact section of the act blank, section sixteen of the act addresses the form of certificates issued by the bank under the act.
“An Act to Reduce the Public Debt One Million of Dollars, and to put the Bank of Illinois into Liquidation,” 25 February 1843, Laws of Illinois (1843), 30-36.
5Judge Davis overruled James Dunlap’s aforementioned motion to allow his payment of $28,127.35 to satisfy the $38,361.93 that the court originally ruled he owed Smith and George Dunlap. As a result, in June 1851, James Dunlap appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court.
This appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court constituted the case Dunlap v. Smith & Dunlap. Lincoln represented Smith and George Dunlap. Stephen T. Logan, John A. McClernand, and Stephen A. Douglas served as James Dunlap’s attorneys, and Justices John D. Caton, Samuel H. Treat, and Lyman Trumbull were the presiding judges in the case. In the end, in June 1851, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed and remanded the Sangamon County Circuit Court’s decision to overrule James Dunlap's motion to allow his payment of $28,127.35 to satisfy the circuit court’s December 1850 judgment, although Justice Trumbull complained about the impact of an incomplete record on their decision, writing “It is to be regretted that, in so important a case as this, the parties have not thought proper to bring before the court the whole transaction out of which Dunlap's indebtedness arose.”
Opinion, Document ID: 96949, Dunlap v. Smith & Dunlap, 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=138785.
6Smith’s response to this letter has not been located.

Copy of Autograph Letter Signed, 1 page(s). Abraham Lincoln Association Files, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).