Abraham Lincoln to Jesse K. Dubois, 13 September 18571
Dear Jesse K.
Several persons here keep teasing ^me^ about you and the Bank commissioner’s not enforcing the banking laws–2 In my stupidity, I do not believe I quite understand what the ground of complaint is; but it appears to me to be this; that the stocks which the banks have on deposite have depreciated; that in such case, it is your duty to make the banks deposite additional stocks, or, in default, wind them up; and that you do not perform this duty– Now how is this? Write me plainly enough to make me understand; and write soon too, for I am annoyed about it a good deal.3
Your friend as everA. Lincoln
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter.
2Lincoln was in Chicago, Illinois during most of September 1857, tending to cases in the U.S. Circuit Court, Northern District of Illinois.
In early 1857, Illinois Governor William H. Bissell appointed three men bank commissioners for the State of Illinois: William H. Herndon, Thomas Quick, and Miles S. Henry. It is unclear if Lincoln is referring to one man, or to all three men.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, September 1857, http://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarMonth&year=1857&month=9; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 18 February 1857, 3:1.
3Jesse K. Dubois’ response, if he wrote one, has not been located.
In April 1857, Lincoln wrote Dubois a letter in which he provided Dubois advice regarding the latter’s legal obligations as state auditor for Illinois.
Although it is unclear precisely which banks Lincoln is referring to in this letter, the stock depreciation that he references may have been related to the Panic of 1857. Several sections of banking legislation that the Illinois General Assembly passed in both 1851 and 1857 were relevant to Dubois as state auditor and to the state’s bank commissioners. According to sections ten and seventeen of the 1851 legislation, the state’s bank commissioners were required to verify the values of banks’ stock shares annually, and it was illegal for the state auditor or others to countersign bills or notes “to any amount, in the aggregate exceeding the public stock deposited with the auditor” as security on the bank. Furthermore, per section thirty-two, if the bank commissioners determined that a bank’s securities had decreased in value and were therefore “insufficient as security for the redemption of bills or circulations,” the 1851 banking law required the bank commissioners to notify the president and cashier of the bank of this issue and require the bank to transfer or deposit other securities to make up for the original securities’ decrease in value. If a bank failed to comply, the state auditor was legally authorized to place that bank into liquidation.
Per the 1857 banking law, the state auditor was required to verify that a bank had a minimum of $50,000 cash capital on hand before issuing any notes or bills on behalf of that bank.
Illinois House Journal. 1851. 17th G. A., 486; “An Act to Establish a General System of Banking,” 15 February 1851, General Laws of Illinois (1851), 165-67, 171-72; “An Act to Amend ‘An Act to Establish a General System of Banking,’ Passed February 15th, 1851, and the Acts Amendatory Thereof,” 14 February 1857, Laws of Illinois (1857), 25.

Autograph Letter Signed, 1 page(s), Taper Collection, Lincoln Presidential Foundation (Springfield, IL).