Abraham Lincoln to George B. Kinkead, 13 September 18531Bloomington, Ills. Sept 13. 1853.Geo. B Kinkead, Esq[Esquire]Lexington, Ky–Dear Sir:
Your letter of the 2nd Inst to Mr Edwards, has been forwarded by him to me here where I am attending court–2 When, in your letter to me, of the 12th July, you gave the opinion that O. T. &Co would abandon their suit, it was plain to my mind they intended no such thing, else they would have told you so plainly.3 The matter now takes me at great disadvantage, in this, that it will cost me more to leave the Circuit (which has just commenced) and attend to taking proof, than it would to give up the claim;4 and your letter does not mention ^the^ time of your next term–5
But the great difficulty of all is the want of something definite, to take proof about– Without a bill of particulars
<Page 2>stating the names of the persons of whom, O. T. &Co[Oldham, Todd & Company] claim that I have collected money for them, any proof I can possibly take, will be wide of the mark— can not meet Levi's statement, (which I now suppose he is determined to make) that "I told him I owed the amount attached"– I can prove by John T. Stuart, of Springfield Illinois, that he & I were partners in the law from the Spring of 1837– to the Spring of 1841, and that, so far as he knows, we never had any business for O. T. &Co– By Ninian W. Edwa Stephen T. Logan of Springfield, Ills[Illinois], that he & I were partners from the Spring of 1841 to the autumn of 1844, and that so far as he knows, he & I never had any business for O T. &Co– By William H. Herndon of Springfield, Ills, that he & I have been partners from the autumn of 1844 up to the present time; and that so far as he knows, he & I never had any business for O. T. &Co— and by all three that
<Page 3>they never knew of me, individually, having any business for O. T. &Co– Also, by Ninian W. Edwards of Springfield, Ills, that so far as he knows ^or believes^ the whole of the business of O. T. &Co in Illinois passed through his hands, and that so far as he knows or believes, none of it ever went into my hands— that the claims at Beardstown & Shelbyville both passed through his hands, and were, in the fall of 1843, given to me, as desparate debts, by Mr Todd, in manner as I have stated in my answer;6 and that less than three years ago, the father-in-law of one of the debtors, called on him to try to compound the debt– As I understand, both these claims went into judgments; and as to that at Beardstown, I can prove the truth of the answer, by the record, and by Henry E. Dummer of Beardstown, Cass Co. Ills[County, Illinois]– As to that at Shelbyville, I can prove the truth of the answer, by the record
<Page 4>that it was taken, not by me, but by a different attorney;7 and that it remains apparantly unsatisfied– By William F. Thornton of Shelbyville, Illinois, that he is the father-in-law of the debtor— that the debtor has gone to California; and that he left this, among others, as an unpaid debt, which he desired ^the witness^ to compound for him if he could. All this I can prove; but without a Bill of particulars, it seems to me, it will not meet the case– Can they not be ruled to give a Bill of particulars?
This matter harrasses my feelings a good deal; and I shall be greatly obliged if you will write me immediately, under cover to Mr Edwards at Springfield Ills– telling ^me^ first, when is the next term of your court; and second, whether I can or can not have a bill of particulars–8Yours trulyA. Lincoln–
2Neither George B. Kinkead’s September 2, 1853 letter, nor Ninian W. Edwards’ letter to Lincoln, forwarding Kinkead’s letter, have been located.
Lincoln was attending court in central Illinois during the second week of September 1853.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 15 September 1853, http://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1853-09-15; 16 September 1853, http://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1853-09-16.
3Kinkead’s July 12, 1853 letter to Lincoln has not been located.
Lincoln is discussing the case Oldham & Hemingway v. Lincoln et al. In the case, Edward Oldham and Thomas Hemingway, the surviving partners of Oldham, Todd and Company, which had included Robert S. Todd, father of Mary Lincoln, 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) failed to pay them $472.54. In June 1853, Oldham and Hemingway sued Lincoln and others in a chancery action in the Kentucky Fayette County Circuit Court to recover the debt.
Oldham & Hemingway v. Lincoln 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=141851.
4Lincoln remained on the circuit for nine weeks, not returning home to Springfield until November 10, 1853. He did, however, manage to take a deposition on November 8 related to the Oldham & Hemingway v. Lincoln et al. case.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 10 November 1853, http://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1853-11-10; 8 November 1853, http://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1853-11-08.
5Kentucky’s Fayette County Circuit Court was part of the commonwealth’s Eleventh Judicial District at the time and met on the first Monday in February and the first Monday in August of each year, for a period of twenty-four days per session.
“An Act to Fix the Time of Holding Circuit Courts in this Commonwealth,” 22 March 1851, Laws of Kentucky (1851), 104.
6Lincoln wrote Kinkead a letter in May 1853, enclosing a document responding to the claims Oldham and Hemingway made against him.
7As Lincoln noted in the document he enclosed to Kinkead in May 1853, he did not remember the identity of this attorney in Shelbyville. However, in a deposition Edwards gave in September 1853, he named Anthony Thornton as the lawyer in question.
8Neither Kinkead’s reply nor a letter from Edwards to Lincoln on this matter have been located. However, Lincoln wrote Kinkead at least two more letters related to this case after this letter.
Lincoln first informed Kinkead that he wanted Oldham and Hemingway to be compelled to provide a bill of particulars in May 1853. In a letter he wrote Kinkead on May 27, Lincoln noted that he was anxious to have such a bill because he believed it would provide him with all the information he needed to disprove Oldham and Hemingway’s claims.
In February 1854, after depositions Lincoln took supported his version of events, Oldham and Hemingway dismissed the case.
Abraham Lincoln to George B. Kinkead; Abraham Lincoln to George B. Kinkead; 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.
Autograph Letter Signed, 4 page(s), Box 4, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).