Adam Adams to Abraham Lincoln, 1 November 18541Grand Detour Novr 1, 1854A. Lincoln Esq[Esquire]:Dr[Dear] Sir
I know of no way that I can prove that I was not present at the time of execution of the Deed from Denny to Bradshaw unless Judge Peters would recollect. I was in the Hotel at Peoria which the deed was made and was not present– but supposed that the deed would be executed from Denny to me instead of Bradshaw— the Deed was drawn by Peters and acknowledged before him and he may recollect that I was not present at the time– I would like to have you write Peters on the subject2Respectfully YoursAdam Adams
I have talked with Peters; and he is not certain; but inclines to rember[remember] that you were present when the deed was made– That wont do– Turner writes me that he has found out where Bradshaw is– Do you know what he will swear? Better go right to Turner, & takes measures to get Bradshaws deposition– I write to Turner by this mail–3Yours trulyA. Lincoln–4
2This letter is related to a lawsuit involving Adams, John H. Kemper, and John Bovey. 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 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 Abraham Lincoln, Thomas J. 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. Adams and Bovey paid the costs and motioned for a new trial, which the court granted. A key aspect of the defense’s case in the new trial revolved around whether Adams was present at the time the deed in question was executed.
Lincoln responded to Adams on the verso of this letter, which is shown in the second image. Lincoln’s letter to Judge Onslow Peters, if he penned one, has not been located.
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.
3No letter from Lincoln to Turner written in early November 1854 has been located. However, between 1850 and 1858, Lincoln wrote Turner nine letters relating to this case. He also corresponded about the case multiple times with Adams, Bovey, and Cumins.
Ultimately, in the new trial, the jury again ruled 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.
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.
Copy of Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Association Files, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).