Opinion Written for William B. Warren, 10 May 18581
Understanding that Col[Colonel] W. B. Warren, being owner in fee of the land described in the attached bond,2 sold ^contracted to sell^ it as per said bond; that under said contract Bennett took possession, and made some improvements, including some plank fencing; that afterwards Bennet abandoned his contract, left the possession, and surrendered said bond to said Warren; and that some person or persons claiming that said Bennett was his or their debtor, knock knocked the planks of the fences off the posts carried the planks away–
I think Warren can maintain trespass against such persons; or Replevin for the planks themselves if they can be found and identified–3A. LincolnSpringfield, May 20. 1858
3Lincoln wrote this opinion while offering legal advice to William B. Warren. Warren had sold land to an individual known as Bennett, who then abandoned the property. A man claiming to be a creditor of Bennett then removed the fence planks that Bennett had added to the land. Warren contacted Lincoln to determine if there was any legal action that could be taken against the plank remover.
In American law, replevin is “an action to recover the plaintiff's personal property that the defendant refused to return.” Lincoln is advising Warren that charging the supposed creditor with trespassing would be legally sound, as well as demanding the return of the planks if possible.
It is unknown if Warren followed Lincoln's advice and sued the unknown creditor in either an action of trespass or replevin.
Lincoln provided legal advice to Warren, 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=141228; “Replevin,” Reference, Glossary, Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Reference.aspx?ref=Reference%20html%20files/Glossary.html.
Copy of Autograph Document Signed, 1 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Association Files, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).