Abraham Lincoln to Thomas J. Turner, 14 December 18532Springfield, Dec: 14. 1853Hon: T. J. Turner:Dear Sir
Your letter and the depositions both reached here yesterday;3 and, by agreement, Logan and I have opened the depositions and read them– By my agreement with Logan, made when I filed the Bill last summer, he has the option to continue the cause over this ensuing term, and he now elects to do so–4 This dispenses with your coming now, even if you should attend the trial when it does come off, which I think you need not do at any sacrafice– The depositions, in the main, are very good; yet there are two or three points, which I will mention, that I would prefer to have differently– First, and least, it does not appear that Bovey advanced any of the money to pay Denney– Secondly, that ^Rollins5 sold to Adams, that^ Adams advanced the money, and that the deed was to be made to Adams, only appears by Bradshaws declarations & admississions— and quare,6 are his declarations & admissions competent evidence? I hope they are, and will examine–
Thirdly— There is an obvious question unanswered–
<Page 2>"Why was Bradshaw interfering in the matter at all? It is easy to argue against us, that he had some sort of interest, and took & held the legal title, till something beyond the money going to Denny, should be paid to him, Bradshaw– The consideration mentioned in Bradshaws deed to Adams & Bovey, being greater than $1400 favors this argument–
Lastly, and what I dislike more than all, is that Jacob Adams proves that Adam Adams was with Bradshaw when he took the deed from Denny to himself– Is this really the fact? I had always understood that Adams & Bovey were totally ignorant of the reason of Bradshaw's taking the deed to himself, and also ignorant of the fact till Bs return to Rock river–
I have the right, at this term, of amending the Bill, without excluding the evidence already taken; and consequently I must be informed at once, whether Adams was with Bradshaw when he took the deed from Denny–
I shall write to Adams on the subject–7
I understand Denny & Rollins are both dead; and I now wish we had proved the fact, as an excuse for not making them witnesses–8Yours truly,A. Lincoln
<Page 4>SPRINGFIELD Ill.[Illinois]
PAIDHon Thos J. TurnerFreeportIllinois–
1“Ans” is written on top of Abraham Lincoln’s script in the middle of the first sheet, as shown in the first image.
2Lincoln wrote and signed this letter, including the address on the last sheet, which was folded to create an envelope.
3Neither Thomas J. Turner’s letter to Lincoln nor the depositions he enclosed with the letter have been located.
4Lincoln is discussing depositions related to the 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 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.
Lincoln initially informed both Turner and Adam Adams of Logan’s preference to postpone the case in letters he wrote each of them in late-June 1853. In his letter to Turner, he also discussed the bill of exceptions he references here. In American law, a bill of exceptions is a formal, written list of objections to a trial judge’s instructions, decisions, or rulings. The trial judge signs and seals the bill and places the objections upon the court’s official record.
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; Abraham Lincoln to Adam Adams; “Bill of Exceptions,” Reference, Glossary, Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Reference.aspx?ref=Reference%20html%20files/Glossary.html; Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law (St. Paul, MN: West, 1891), 135.
6“Quare” is a Latin word generally used to inquire into the reasons behind a particular action.
Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law, 976.
8When the case came to trial again, 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, http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Details.aspx?case=140935.
Autograph Letter Signed, 4 page(s), Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (Williamstown, MA).