Abraham Lincoln to Anson L. Brewer, 27 July 18551Springfield, Ills– July 27. 1855A. L. Brewer, Esq.[Esquire] Dear Sir:
Yours of the 21st is received–2 When I wrote you in March, I explained to you the causes of the delay so far–3 When I went to that county in April, I did give the case my special attention–4 I commenced a suit in the Probate court; and, as the executor would waive nothing, the time for trial extended beyond the term of the circuit court, and of course had came on when I had to be elsewhere– However, my partner went up especially to attend to it, and when the trial (if it could be called a trial) was over, the Judge declined deciding then, but took the case under advisement– There was really nothing to decide, only the grave question whether the record, with the certificates, (which last, you remember we got up ourselves) proves the debt– And yet the Judge finally decided that against us!!!– When the decision was made, we were notified by letter, and we sent up an appeal bond, to take the case to the Circuit court, which sits again in September– Thus stands the case now–5Yours &C.[etc.]A. Lincoln
3Lincoln references a lawsuit involving James Kelly and Jesse D. Blackledge. In August 1838, Kelly sold his share of a mill in Columbiana County, Ohio, to Nathan Harris, who financed the transaction with a series of promissory notes, with Blackledge as security. Harris and Blackledge did not redeem the notes upon their maturity, and in August 1845, Kelly brought suit in the Court of Common Pleas of Columbiana County to recover the debt. In June 1847, the court rendered a judgment against Blackledge and Harris for $632.59. Blackledge failed to satisfy the judgment and moved to Logan County, Illinois. Brewer, Kelly’s attorney in Ohio, traced Blackledge to Logan County. In October 1852, Kelly retained Lincoln & Herndon and sued Blackledge in the Logan County Circuit Court to recover the debt.
Kelly v. Blackledge, 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=140956.
4Lincoln attended court at the Logan County Circuit Court when it opened on April 2, 1855.
“An Act to Reduce the Limits of the Eighth Judicial Circuit, and to Fix the Times of Holding Courts Therein,” 3 February 1853, General Laws of Illinois (1853), 63.
5While the case proceeded in the Logan County Circuit Court, Blackledge died, and Kelly dismissed the case in order to file a claim against Blackledge’s estate. Kelly continued to employ Lincoln & Herndon, and in 1854, he filed a claim against David G. Evans, the executor of Blackledge's estate, in the Logan County Court. In April 1855, the court refused the claim because Kelly had not filed the claim in time. In September 1855, Kelly appealed the judgment to the Logan County Circuit Court. The court ruled for Kelly and awarded him the judgment award from Ohio.
Lincoln and Brewer first corresponded regarding this suit in November 1852. In 1855, Lincoln wrote Brewer two additional letters about this case, and Brewer wrote one additional letter.
Henry C. Friend, “Abraham Lincoln as a Receiving Attorney: Kelly vs. Blackledge,” Abraham Lincoln’s Commercial Practice (Chicago: Commercial Law Foundation, 1970), 21-28; Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 2:161, 308-9, 315-16, 327; Kelly v. Blackledge, 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=140956; Kelly v. Evans, 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=136119; Kelly v. Evans, 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=136120; Abraham Lincoln to Anson L. Brewer; Anson L. Brewer to Abraham Lincoln; Abraham Lincoln to Anson L. Brewer.
Autograph Letter Signed, 1 page(s), GLC00606, Gilder Lehrman Collection (New York, New York).