Separate Answer of Abraham Lincoln in Oldham & Hemingway v. Lincoln et al., 27 May 18531
The separate answer of Abraham Lincoln to a Petition exhibited in the Fayette circuit court in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, against said Lincoln, Ninian W. Edwards, and George B. Kinkead, by Edward Oldham and Thomas Hemingway, senr[senior] surviving partners of Oldham, Todd &Co–
This Respondent, saving, reserving &c[etc.], for answer to said Petition says he believes it is true, and therefore he admits that said Petitioner's are the surviving partners of said firm of Oldham Todd &Co; that said firm did consist of the persons named as the members thereof in said Petition; and that said Robert S. Todd did depart this life about the time stated in said Petition– But this Respondent utterly denies that he is, or ever was, indebted to said firm, or to said Petitioners as surviving partners thereof, or in any way howsoever; he denies that he ever collected $472.54/1.00 or any other sum whatever, for said firm, or of money belonging to said firm, or to said Petitioners, in any capaci-[capacity] whatever; he denies that he ever had placed in his charge for collection, any debt or claim for said firm, or for said Petitioners, of any sort whatever; and he denies that he ever was employed as the attorney ^or in any other capacity,^ of said firm, or of said Petitioners, in any matter whatever, so far as he remembers or believes– Respondent can not conceive on what the charge of said Petitioner's against him is founded, unless it be the following facts– In the autumn of 1843, and after Respondent had intermarried with said Robert S. Todd's daughter, said Robert S. Todd visited Springfield, Illinois,2 when and where, Respondent, for the first time in his life, met him–A. Lincoln–
<Page 2>During that visit, said Todd remarked to this Respondent that there were two desperate or doubtful debts due Oldham Todd &Co— one at, or near Beardstown, Illinois, in charge of an attorney by the name of Henry E. Dummer, and the other at Shelbyville, Illinois, in charge of whom Respondent does not remember;3 and that if any thing could be collected on said debts he desired Respondent to take and retain it as his own– Afterwards, and, as Respondent remembers, in 1846, said Dummer paid over to this Respondent, the sum of fifty dollars, representing that sum to be all, beyond charges, that could be collected on the said claim in his hands– And as to the said debt at Shelbyville, nothing whatever has come to the hands of this Respondent directly or indirectly; and Respondent supposes said debt has not been paid to any one else, but remains wholly unpaid– If Respondent ever knew, he has forgotten the name of the debtor at Beardstown; but ^he^ believes one Marshall Basye was the debtor, or one of the debtors, at Shelbyville– Respondent was not desired to take, and did not take charge of said claims as an attorney, or in any otherwise than as herein stated; so far as he remembers or believes he never spoke or wrote to either of the debtors on the subject; nor ever in any way attempted to sap supersede the attornies in whose hands the claims were originally placed; and, with the exception of the fifty dollars aforesaid, received by Respondent under the circumstances aforesaid, Respondent denies that he ever received any thing whatever, to which said firm, or said Petitioners could
<Page 3>have a pretence of a claim– Respondent further states that when he visited Lexington in the autumn of 1849, as he remembers, he stated this whole matter to said Hemingway and to L. O. Todd, as he now states it;4 and that, more recently, in the spring of 1852, he again fully stated it, in his sworn answer to a Bill filed for the adjustment of the estate of said Robert S. Todd, which answer doubtless is on file in the said Fayette circuit court,5 and Respondent supposes said court, in that case decided and adjusted the rights of the parties arising upon said state of facts– Respondent cares but little for said fifty dollars; if it is his legal right he prefers retaining it; but ^he^ objects to repaying it once to the estate of said Robert S. Todd, and again to said firm, or to said Petitioners; and he particularly objects to being compelled to pay money to said firm or said Petitioner's which he never received at all– Respondent prays that said Petitioners may be ruled to file a Bill of particulars, stating the names and residences of the persons of whom, they claim that Respondent has collected money belonging to them– Respondent admits that he resides in Illinois; that said George B. Kinkead is his attorney; and that he had means in his hands belonging to Respondent, substantially as is in said Petition stated; and now having fully answered &c.[etc.]6
[ certification ]
|State of Illinois
Before me, Samuel G. Craig, clerk of the circuit court of the county aforesaid, this day personally appeared Abraham Lincoln, whose name is subscribed to the answer written on this sheet, and who being by me first duly sworn, states on oath that all the statements in said answer are true in substance and in fact– In witness whereof I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed the seal of said court on on this 27th day of May AD. 1853.7Saml G. Craig, Clk[Clerk]8
[ docketing ]
|Oldham & Hemingway
|Answer of Lincoln9
|Lincoln & others:
1Abraham Lincoln wrote the first three pages of this document, as well as the segments noted below.
Lincoln enclosed this document in a letter he wrote to George B. Kinkead on May 27, 1853.
2The exact date of Robert S. Todd’s visit to Springfield is unclear, but David Herbert Donald, author of Lincoln, states that Todd arrived shortly before Christmas. Lincoln represented him in a legal case in the Sangamon County Circuit Court on and off between mid-November to mid-December 1843.
David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), 96; The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 17 November 1843, http://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1843-11-17; 14 December 1843, http://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1843-12-14; For full details on the case that Lincoln served as Robert S. Todd’s attorney on, see Todd v. Ware, 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=140765.
3In a deposition Ninian W. Edwards gave in September 1853, he named Anthony Thornton as the Shelbyville lawyer in question.
4Lincoln traveled to Lexington in the fall of 1849 to attend to his late father-in-law’s estate, including a lawsuit in the Kentucky Fayette County Circuit Court related to property that he and Mary Lincoln believed they were legally entitled to as Todd’s heirs. The Lincoln family departed Springfield for Lexington sometime during the third week of October. They were en route by October 18 and arrived in Lexington by October 28. They remained in Lexington until about November 7.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 18 October 1849, http://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1849-10-18; 28 October 1849, http://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1849-10-28; 7 November 1849, http://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1849-11-07; For information on the lawsuit that Mary and Abraham Lincoln became involved as Robert S. Todd’s heirs, see Todd et al. v. Wickliffe, 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=141847.
6Lincoln’s answer to Oldham and Hemingway in this document is related to the Kentucky Fayette County Circuit Court case Oldham & Hemingway v. Lincoln et al. In the case, Oldham and Hemingway, the surviving partners of Oldham, Todd and Company, which included Robert S. Todd, claimed that the company had hired Lincoln and Edwards to collect some debts for them in Illinois. Oldham and Hemingway claimed that Lincoln, Edwards, and Kinkead (who was acting as Lincoln's attorney in Lexington, Kentucky) failed to pay them $472.54. In June 1853, Oldham and Hemingway sued Lincoln and others in a chancery action to recover the debt. In February 1854, after depositions Lincoln took supported the version of events he outlines in this document, Oldham and Hemingway dismissed the case.
Lincoln wrote Kinkead at least three more letters in 1853 and one in 1854 related to this case.
For the legal documents related to this case, including the petition Lincoln mentions above, see Oldham & Hemingway v. Lincoln 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=141851; Harry E. Pratt, The Personal Finances of Abraham Lincoln (Springfield, IL: Abraham Lincoln Association, 1943), 118; Abraham Lincoln to George B. Kinkead; Abraham Lincoln to George B. Kinkead; Abraham Lincoln to George B. Kinkead; Abraham Lincoln to George B. Kinkead.
7Lincoln wrote all of the script on this page, shown in the fourth image, above Samuel G. Craig’s signature.
Autograph Document Signed, 4 page(s), Fayette County Circuit Court Case Files, Box 2, Acc. No. A2007-046, Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (Frankfort, Kentucky).