Abraham Lincoln to Mason Brayman, 23 September 18541Bloomington, Sept 23. 1854M. Brayman, Esq[Esquire]Dear Sir:
This ^is^ the last day of court here,2 and being about to leave, I have drawn on the I. C. R. R. Co ^or rather on you on their account,^ for $100, which the McLean County Bank have negociated for me– I have directed them to have the draft presented to you– Will you please see that it shall be honored?
The reason I have taken this liberty is, that since last fall, by your request, I have declined all new business against the road, and out of which I suppose I could have realized several hundred dollars; have attended, both at DeWitt and here, to ^a^ great variety of little business ^for the Co,^ most of which, however, remains unfinished, and have received nothing– I wish now to be charged with this sum, to be taken into account on settlement–3Truly Yours &c[etc.]A. LincolnP. S. The draft is in favor of Mr Pardee, who is Cashier of the Bank–
SEP[September] 25M. Brayman, EsqChicagoIllinois–
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter, including the address on the second sheet, which was folded to create an envelope.
2Lincoln was in Bloomington, Illinois from September 12 to 26, giving speeches against the Kansas-Nebraska Act and attending to cases in the McLean County Circuit Court.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 12 September 1854, http://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1854-09-12; 23 September 1854, http://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1854-09-23; 26 September 1854, http://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1854-09-26.
3Mason Brayman’s reply has not been located.
Lincoln is referring to his work on the case Illinois Central RR v. McLean County, Illinois & Parke. The Illinois Central Railroad owned 118 acres of land in McLean County, Illinois. The county assessor levied a $428.57 tax on the railroad's property. The railroad claimed that the Illinois General Assembly act incorporating the railroad exempted the railroad from taxes. In September 1853, the railroad sued McLean County in the McLean County Circuit Court for an injunction to stop the county from selling railroad land to pay taxes. In late-September 1853, the parties reached an agreement, in which the circuit court would dismiss the bill, thus ruling for McLean County, and the railroad would appeal the case to the Illinois Supreme Court, where the only question would be whether the county had a lawful right to tax the Illinois Central Railroad’s property.
Lincoln represented the railroad in its Illinois Supreme Court case, which began in December 1853. In December 1855, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the McLean County Circuit Court, and Justice Walter B. Scates ruled that the Illinois General Assembly could exempt property from taxation. Therefore, the Illinois Central Railroad’s charter was constitutional.
As Lincoln notes above, at Brayman’s request he declined new cases against the railroad that came his way between 1853 and 1855, passing at least some on to John T. Stuart, and therefore lost opportunities to earn other legal fees as a direct result of his employment for the railroad. Lincoln eventually received $5,000 for his legal services, although he had to sue the railroad in 1857 to collect the fee.
Illinois Central RR v. McLean County, Illinois & Parke, 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=136867, http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Details.aspx?case=136868; For the act incorporating the railroad, see “An Act to Incorporate the Illinois Central Railroad Company,” 10 February 1851, Private Laws of Illinois (1851), 61-74; Abraham Lincoln to James F. Joy; Abraham Lincoln to Mason Brayman; For details on Lincoln suing the railroad to collect the fee for his services, see: Lincoln v. Illinois Central RR, 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=136777.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum (Boston, MA).