Abraham Lincoln to Thomas J. Turner, 15 August 18531Springfield, August 15. 1853.Hon: T. J. Turner.Dear Sir:
Herewith is the commission for taking depositions–2 They are to be taken in conformity to our State statute for taking the depositions of non-resident witnesses—3 the reason of which is that the Federal court, by rule, adopted our statute, with this modification, that witnesses residing more than one hundred miles from the place of holding the court, shall be classed as non-residents–4 As to the caption and Comr’s[Commissioner's] certificate ^ and direction back to the clerk,^ you have only to see that they conform to th our statute– The comr chooses his own day to begin the job, in regard to which, I doubt not, he will conform to your wishes– When I served notice on Logan I promised him that if he would name any attorney in the vicinity whom he would wish to be present at the taking of the depositions, I would request you to notify him of the time and place; but he is gone off to the “Worlds Fair” without having named any–5 You will perceive Logan filed cross-interrogatories; and which I hope may be as fully and fairly answered as our own– My former letter contains all the other suggestions which occur to me–6Very truly your friendA. Lincoln–
3Lincoln is referring to an act passed by the Illinois General Assembly on March 1, 1845, providing guidelines for taking depositions when the parties involved resided outside the state of Illinois. This act amended the state’s February 9, 1827 act regulating the mode of taking depositions.
“An Act to Amend an Act, Entitled, ‘An Act Regulating the Mode of Taking Depositions, and to Provide for the Perpetuating of Testimony,’” 1 March 1845, Laws of Illinois (1845), 27; “An Act Regulating the Mode of Taking Depositions, and to Provide for the Perpetuating of Testimony,” 9 February 1827, Revised Laws of Illinois (1827), 174-79.
4Per various acts dating from 1789 onward, procedures for legal cases held in federal courts was dictated by the procedural rules of the state court in which the federal court sat. Therefore, federal courts in Illinois, including the U.S. Circuit Court, District of Illinois, were governed by the same procedural rules as Illinois’ state courts.
Thomas O. Main, “Reconsidering Procedural Conformity Statutes,” Scholarly Works (2007), 77.
5Inspired by London’s World Fair of 1851, the American World’s Fair of 1853 was the first international exhibition to be held in the United States. Known as the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations, it took place in New York City from July 14, 1853 to November 1, 1854.
Frank Monaghan, “The Parade of World’s Fairs,” New York History 21 (July 1940), 264, 266-67; Francis Morrone, “Great Exhibition, New York,” Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography, ed. by John Hannavy (New York: Routledge, 2008), 1:617.
6A June 27, 1853 letter from Lincoln to Turner is the only other letter preceding this letter which has been located between the two men in 1853. In both letters, Lincoln discusses the legal case Kemper v. Adams & Bovey. In the case, John H. 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 Adam Adams and John 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. By virtue of an act promulgated in March 1839, the losing party in an ejectment case was entitled to one new trial simply by paying the court costs, and Adams and Bovey paid the costs and 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.
As indicated in another letter to Turner, Lincoln first became involved in the lawsuit in December 1849. He wrote multiple letters to Turner, Adams, Bovey, and Cumins regarding this case before its conclusion in 1858.
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), GLC06677, Gilder Lehrman Collection (New York, New York).