Abraham Lincoln to Joseph W. Brackett, 18 May 18571
Joseph W. Brackett, Esq[Esquire]Dear Sir
Your three letters, two dated April 28th and the other, May 1st were received by me on the 9th of May, when I returned home after an absence of two weeks–2 I went immediately to the Land-Office to file the Declarations of Jacob Warner and Cyrus Conkling; and failed to get the thing consummated, in consequence of there being nothing in the Office showing the quantity of land in the tracts, sought to be pre-empted– I think the Register’s intentions were correct, but he was perplexed as to what he ought to do, because of this peculiarity of the case, and consequently he put me off from time to time till now– Herewith I send you the certificates, bearing date May 9th being the day I first presented the declarations–3
I shall be ready to assist further in the cases, when occasion arises– One of your letters had one dollar in it, and another, ten– I paid two to the Register, and pocketed the other nine–
Yours &C.[etc.]A. Lincoln4
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter.
2No letters from Joseph W. Brackett to Lincoln of April 28 or May 1, 1857, have been located.
Lincoln had left Springfield sometime between April 27 and April 30, 1857. He was in Danville by the latter date to attend the Vermilion County Circuit Court, and remained there until he returned to Springfield on May 9.
3Jacob Warner and Cyrus Conkling were among a group of men local to Rock Island County who acted together in the spring of 1857 to attempt to claim land on the island of Rock Island through pre-emption. Pre-emption refers to “the right of a settler of a tract of public land to purchase it before other applicants.” Warner and Conkling both settled on the island on April 10, 1857, and through Lincoln filed declaratory statements of pre-emption at the Springfield Land Office on May 9. Rock Island, however, was subject to competing claims of ownership, some by earlier settlers who had apparently failed to file pre-emption claims, and arguments ensued. Lincoln attempted unsuccessfully to file proofs of pre-emption for Warner and Conkling with Springfield Land Office register John Connelly, Sr., later in the year, but Connelly refused to accept them. Members of Warner and Conkling’s group went to Springfield themselves in April 1858 to prove title, but the General Land Office in Washington, DC prohibited further action at that time and announced that the U.S. War Department intended to sell the land at public auction as a military reservation. Ownership of land on Rock Island was still unsettled on the advent of the Civil War, but when the U.S. Congress established an arsenal on the island in 1862, the remaining settlers relinquished their pre-emption claims.
D. W. Flagler, A History of the Rock Island Arsenal (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1877), 62-65, 85-86; “Pre-emption,” 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; Lincoln registered land for Warner & Conkling, 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=141538; Abraham Lincoln to Joseph W. Brackett.
4No response to this letter has been located. Lincoln wrote Brackett again on this subject on November 27, 1857.

Copy of Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Lincoln Manuscripts, Lilly Library, Indiana University (Bloomington, IN).