Abraham Lincoln to Joseph Gillespie, 2 August 18561
The following is in the genuine hand writing of Mr Lincoln which I present as a memento to my friend E. C Rice Jany[January] 23d 1874J. Gillespie2
Springfield, Aug: 2. 1856Dear Gillespie–
About nine years ago, it seems that “Lincoln & Herndon” obtained a judgment here in the Federal Court, for Rockhill & Co vs Bradford & Brother, or Bradford & Son or some firm name having Bradford in it–3 The last named firm, it seems, lived, or did business at Lebanon, or Greenville or somewhere there– You now know who I mean– Are they now, or have they since 1847, been good for a debt of $1400–00?4
Another matter— I am to attend a political meeting at Paris, Edgar Co. on the 6th5 My [Yours as everA. Lincoln–
plain?] ^plan^ is to leave here on the morning train on the 5th reaching Alton at 12 or 1 oclock, & then taking the first train towards Terre Haute– I am very anxious to see you personally– Can you not meet me at Alton? or fall in
with me somewhere on the train? Do, if you can–6
From Mr Lincoln8
3The case Lincoln references was Thomas C. Rockhill & Co. v. Bradford & Brother in which the Thomas C. Rockhill & Company retained Lincoln & Herndon in 1845 to sue the partnership of Bradford & Brother to recover a debt of $669.76 and an additional $500 in damages. The case was heard in U.S. Circuit Court, District of Illinois, and was decided in 1847 in favor of the plaintiff. Thomas C. Rockhill & Co. was awarded the amount of the claimed debt and $254.27 in damages.
Several of the legal documents associated with this lawsuit identify Thomas H. Rockhill & Co. as “Thomas H. Rockwell & Co.” Roy P. Basler, editor of The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, adopted this name, citing the case as Rockwell et al. v. Bradford, though the transcription has “Rockhill & Co.” Editors with the Lincoln Legal Papers kept Basler’s nomenclature, but further research has confirmed that the name of the firm was indeed Thomas C. Rockhill & Co. The editors have modified the case name to reflect this finding.
Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 2:357; Thomas C. Rockhill & Co. v. Bradford & Brother, 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=137600.
4No response from Gillespie to this letter has been located, nor further discussion of this issue.
The firm of Bradford & Brother seems to have operated in Lebanon, Illinois for three years, from around the end of 1839 until partner George A. Bradford departed for St. Louis. The other partner, Owen J. Bradford, remained in Illinois and became a farmer in Bond County.
Complete Record, Document ID: 64529, Thomas C. Rockhill & Co. v. Bradford & Brother, 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=137600; Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, St. Clair County, 28 November 1839, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; U.S. Census Office, Sixth Census of the United States (1840), St. Clair County, IL, 262; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Bond County, IL, 397; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Bond County, IL, 272; Daily Illinois State Register (Springfield), 11 November 1876, 2:4.
5Lincoln attended and gave a speech at the meeting in Paris, Illinois in support of the presidential campaign of John C. Fremont on August 6, 1856. From July 1856 onwards, Lincoln gave over fifty speeches across Illinois in support of Fremont and to rally the disparate elements of the emerging Republican Party. See the 1856 Federal Election.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 6 August 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1856-08-06; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:425-33.
6No evidence has been found to indicate whether a meeting between Lincoln and Gillespie took place at this time.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Collection, Missouri Historical Society (St. Louis, MO).