Abraham Lincoln to Thomas J. Turner, 21 December 18532Springfield, Decr 21. 1853Hon: T. J. Turner:Dear Sir:
Yours of the 16th is received–3 You say Adams did go to Peoria with Bradshaw, but was not actually present when Bradshaw took the deed– But by whom can we prove that he was not actually with him? This is the point– We can use Bradshaw as a witness; and we ought, by all means, to do it, if we can have any assurance that he will testify fairly– What he told Phelps4 recently, is clearly hearsay, & we can not be allowed to prove it by Phelps; but Bradshaw would probably swear the same he told Phelps– It is now a great question with me whether we shall take Bradshaw's deposition; and I wish to know, at once, what you and our clients think of trusting him– He can make the matter entirely plain ^on all the points,^ and no one else can– If you conclude to trust him, with me, and I will, at this term, get an order of court to examine him–5Yours trulyA. Lincoln
<Page 2>SPRINGFIELD Ill.[Illinois]
PAIDHon: Thos J. TurnerFreeportIllinois–
1“Ans” is written over Abraham Lincoln’s script roughly halfway down 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.
5Turner’s reply to Lincoln, if he wrote one, has not been located. However, in a November 1, 1854 letter to Lincoln, Adam Adams reiterated that he was not present at the time the deed in question was executed. In a reply written on the verso of this 1854 letter, Lincoln advised Adams to see Turner and ensure that Bradshaw was deposed.
Lincoln is discussing 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 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.
When 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, 2d edition (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009), http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Details.aspx?case=140935.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Autograph Letters, Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).