A Bill for the Relief of the Creditors of the Late William Wernwag, [29 December 1840]1
Sec:[Section] 1st Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois represented in the General Assembly: That the County3 Commissioner's Court of Sangamon county, are hereby authorized and required to order to be paid out of the Treasury of said county to each of the creditors of the late William Wernwag, such sum as sum as may due him, her or them from said Wernwag, upon the following conditions, towit—
First: Each creditor shall make full legal proof of the indebtedness of said Wernwag to him her or them—
Second—That such indebtedness was created for work and labour done, or materials furnished, or both, for the construction of the Sangamon Bridge—
Third: That said creditor was induced to give credit to said Wernwag by said Commissioner's court, or a majority of the members thereof.4
Sec: 2nd Said county commissioner's court, are authorized and required to take all necessary steps for a fair trial in every case [
arising?] ^arising^ under this act; and may, in their discretion, empannel juries to try questions fact, arising herein—5
No 31 House
A. bill for an act for the relief of the creditors of the late William Wernwag—
2On December 29, 1840, Abraham Lincoln introduced this bill in the House of Representatives. On January 4, 1841, the House referred the bill to a select committee. On January 14, the select committee reported the bill with amendments, and the House concurred in those amendments and ordered the bill to be re-engrossed. On January 18, the House passed the bill. On January 20, the Senate referred the bill to the Committee on Counties. On January 26, the committee reported back the bill without amendment and recommended its passage. On February 4, the Senate amended and passed the bill. On February 13, the House voted against passage of the Senate’s amended version of the bill. On February 27, the Senate voted to recede from its amendments. On February 27, the Council of Revision approved the bill and the act became law.
Illinois House Journal. 1840. 12th G.A., 2nd session, 161, 166, 171, 183, 226, 233, 239, 347, 391; Illinois Senate Journal. 1840. 12th G.A., 2nd sess., 176, 180-181, 184-185, 210, 240-241, 319, 444.
4The General Assembly struck out Lincoln’s original conditions and added three new ones.
In January 1836, the Illinois General Assembly had passed an act to build a bridge over the Sangamon River north of Springfield, Illinois. William Wernwag, the bridge’s contractor, failed to pay some of his sub-contractors, which spurred several lawsuits in which Abraham Lincoln and his partner John T. Stuart represented the creditors seeking payment. During those legal proceedings, Wernwag died, and then Lincoln initiated this legislation on behalf of his clients and others who may have lost money in the construction of the bridge.
An Act for the Relief of the Creditors of the Late William Wernwag; An Act to Authorize and Require the County Commissioners' Court of Sangamon County to Build a Bridge over the Sangamon River; Chapter 4: Hoffman v. Wernwag, Lockwood v. Wernwag, Marsh v. Wernwag, Daniel W. Stowell et al., eds., The Papers of Abraham Lincoln: Legal Documents and Cases (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008), 1:49-59; Hoffman v. Wernwag, 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=139347; Lockwood v. Wernwag, 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=139695; Marsh v. Wernwag, 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=139755.
5The General Assembly replaced this second section with a substitute and added two additional sections.
Lincoln’s clients did not avail themselves of the remedy outlined in this legislation, but Charles Broadwell presented his bill for $2,475.61 for lumber he claimed to have furnished Wernwag for the construction of the bridge. The commissioners’ court, however, refused payment, and Broadwell did not initiate a lawsuit.
An Act for the Relief of the Creditors of the Late William Wernwag; Order, 7 December 1843, Sangamon County Commissioners’ Records, Book E, 184, Sangamon County Commissioners’ Court (Sangamon County Board of Supervisors), Illinois Regional Archives Depository, University of Illinois, Springfield.
Handwritten Document, 2 page(s), Meisei University (Tokyo, Japan).