Abraham Lincoln to James S. Sandford, Mortimer Porter, and Garrit H. Striker, Jr., 10 March 18551Springfield, March 10– 1855Messrs,[Messieurs] Sandford Porter & StrikerNew YorkGentlemen:
Yours of the 5th is received; as also was that of 15th Decr[December] last, inclosing bond of Clift to Pray–2 When I received the bond, I was dabbling in politics; and, of course, neglecting business– Having since been beaten out, I have gone to work again–3
As I do not practice at Rushville, I to-day open a correspondence, with Henry E. Dummer, Esq[Esquire], of Beardstown, Ills, with the view of getting the job into his hands– He is a good man if he will undertake it– Write me whether I shall do this, or return the bond to you–4Very RespectfullyA. Lincoln
[ docketing ]
A. Lincoln Eq.[Esquire]
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter.
In The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, editor Roy P. Basler misidentified Striker as Ambrose K. Striker. Garrit H. Striker, Jr. was the third partner in the law firm Sandford, Porter, and Striker as of March 1855. James S. Sandford and Mortimer Porter were the other two members of the firm.
Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 2:308; James S. Sandford, Mortimer Porter, and Garrit B. Striker, Jr., v. Elisha Ruckman, (Sup. Ct. N.Y, Cnty. 1862), 50-51.
2The letters of December 15, 1854 and March 5, 1855 have not been located. Sandford, Porter, and Striker sent Lincoln a $2,000 bond for collection. Samuel A. Clift had made a bond with one Mr. Pray’s for $2,000. Clift had failed to pay the bond, and Pray had commenced an attachment suit to collect the debt. Attachment involved a legal action through which a plaintiff could have the court seize the defendant’s personal or real property pending the outcome of a case involving a debt of $20 or more; creditors frequently used attachment against debtors. Although both Clift and Pray were residents of New York, Clift had a 330-acre farm one mile from Rushville, out of which Pray, in his attachment suit, wished the collection be made.
Abraham Lincoln to Henry Dummer; “Attachment” Reference, Glossary, 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/Reference.aspx?ref=Reference%20html%20files/Glossary.html.
3Lincoln had failed to collect the debt and had neglected other legal business because he was occupied with an unsuccessful bid to become Illinois’ next U.S. Senator.
Passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and its effective repeal of the Missouri Compromise had reawakened his Lincoln’s passion for politics, and he threw himself into the election campaign in the fall of 1854, crisscrossing Illinois to deliver speeches against the Kansas-Nebraska Act and in support of anti-Nebraska candidates. He even allowed himself to become a candidate for the Illinois General Assembly (albeit unwillingly at first). As the election campaign reached its climax, his name began to circulate as a possible candidate for U.S. Senator. Although he won election to the Illinois House of Representatives, on November 25, 1854 he officially declined to serve in order to run for the U.S. Senate. Per article three, section seven of the 1848 Illinois Constitution, state legislators were ineligible for election to the U.S. Senate. Ultimately, however, Lincoln did not win election to the U.S. Senate; on February 8, 1855 the General Assembly selected anti-Nebraska Democrat Lyman Trumbull instead. See the 1854 Federal Election.
David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), 167-73, 185; Autobiography of Abraham Lincoln Written for John L. Scripps; Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 10 November 1854, 2:5; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:392, 401-2; Ill. Const. of 1848, art. III, § 7; Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55.
4No additional correspondence between Lincoln and Sandford, Porter, and Striker has been located. Lincoln wrote Dummer on the same day to inquire if he would take the case. Dummer agreed, and Lincoln enclosed the bond and related correspondence from Sandford, Porter, and Striker in a letter to Dummer dated March 19. The final outcome of the case is unknown.
Lincoln referred Sandford et al. to Dummer, 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=141324.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Skaneateles Library Association (Skaneateles, NY).