Abraham Lincoln to George U. Miles, 14 February 18561
G. U. Miles, Esq[Esquire] Petersburg, Ills. Dear Sir:
Major Harris left a letter with me, in order that I might do something for you, in regard to your Goodman, or McAtee land–2 I understand the facts of the case to be as follows–
Dec.[December] 25. 1840– Chistian Goodman gave his note, and a mortgage on this land (S E.[Southeast] fr.[fractional] ¼ of Sec:[Section] 22– 17– 6) to William W. Vigal, to secure $112— with twelve per cent–
Jany[January] 7. 1842– Note credited $50
Jany 7. 1842– Note assigned by Vigal to Thomas Lewis
Aug.[August] 20. 1842. Note assigned by Lewis to F. T. King
Jany. 2. 1843. Note assigned by King to Webster & Hickox
In 1850 or 1851, I commenced a foreclosure suit on the note & mortgage, in the Circuit court of Sangamon county, for Webster & Hickox–3
While this suit was pending, Goodman sold the land to McAtee, and Webster & Hickox also sold the note and mortgage to McAtee; and Mr Hickox directed me to do no more with the suit for him & Webster; but to hold it up subject to the direction of McAtee– So the suit has stood ever since, and still stands–
I now learn from Major Harris’ letter that McAtee
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died,4 and that the land has since been sol[d] (by the administrator of McAtee, to pay debts) to John Baker; and that Baker has since sold to you– The reason I write you is, that I can not understand, from the Major’s letter, precisely what your difficulty is–
He tells me that McAtee bought the land of Goodman; and if this is so, and he paid for the land, and Goodman deeded it to him, I do not perceive that you are in any difficulty at all.
Did McAtee pay Goodman for the land?
Did Goodman deed it to McAtee?
If either of them is true, Goodman’s heirs have no right to the land, though his widow would have dower, if she did not join in the deed– Please write me; and return me this letter, as it will save me hunting up the facts again–5
Yours &c[etc.]A. Lincoln
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter.
2No such letter from Thomas L. Harris has been located.
3Lincoln’s foreclosure suit commenced in August 1851 under the title Webster & Hickox v. Goodman & McAtee.
Webster & Hickox v. Goodman & McAtee, 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=140735.
4Benjamin D. McAtee died in March 1853.
Illinois, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1772-1999, 14 March 1853, Menard County (Lehi, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, 2015).
5No response to this letter has been located. However, George U. Miles appears to have responded immediately based on Lincoln’s next letter to Miles on February 17, 1856.
McAtee had legally purchased the land in question from Christian Goodman. Therefore, the sale of land to Miles was a legal transaction and neither Goodman nor his heirs could claim ownership. As such, on April 25, 1857, the case was stricken from the court docket and dismissed.
Decree, Document ID 126235,Webster & Hickox v. Goodman & McAtee, 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=140735.

Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Volume Volume 2, Herndon-Weik Collection of Lincolniana, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).