Abraham Lincoln to Gustave P. Koerner, 19 January 18581
Hon: G. KoernerMy dear Sir:
This morning Col McClernand showed me a Petition for a mandamus against the Secretary of State to compel him to certify the apportionment act of last session; and he says it will be presented to the court to-morrow morning. We shall be allowed three or four days to get up a return; and we would like the benefit of consultation with you, if it is not too inconvenient for you to come up–2
Yours as everA. Lincoln3P. S. I received the note you sent, & got your judgment the other day–4A. L.

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[ docketing ]
A. Lincoln
19 January
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter.
2A mandamus is a writ by which a court exercises its authority over a public official and compels them to perform an official duty. In this instance, the official was Illinois Secretary of State Ozias M. Hatch, who was being sued in the Illinois Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to furnish state printers Lanphier & Walker of the Democratic Illinois State Register with a true copy of an 1857 bill apportioning representation in the Illinois General Assembly. The bill had been drafted and supported by the Democrats with an eye towards maintaining their party’s majority in the General Assembly. The Illinois House of Representatives passed the bill on February 16, 1857, and the Illinois Senate concurred on February 18. Republican Governor William H. Bissell mistakenly signed the bill then cancelled his signature after his secretary had already reported his approval to the House. John A. McClernand was one of the Democratic attorneys representing the plaintiffs, while Hatch retained Lincoln, Orville H. Browning, and Jackson Grimshaw. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in Hatch’s favor in February 1858 and denied the writ.
On this date Lincoln wrote a similar letter to Joseph Gillespie requesting his consultation on the case and also telegraphed George T. Brown in Alton telling him to send Gillespie to Springfield immediately. Neither Gillespie nor Koerner was an attorney of record on the case.
“Mandamus,” 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; People ex rel. Lanphier & Walker v. Hatch, 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=139920; Daniel W. Stowell et al., eds., The Papers of Abraham Lincoln: Legal Documents and Cases (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008), 4:64-91; Illinois House Journal. 1857. 20th G. A., 909-10, 1004, 1018; Illinois Senate Journal. 1857. 20th G. A., 760.
3No response to this letter has been located. On February 7, 1858, Lincoln again wrote to both Gillespie and Koerner to apprise them that the case had been resolved in Hatch’s favor and that McClernand had given no indication that he intended to plead over.
4Koerner’s note has not been located and the judgment received by Lincoln has not been identified.
5Koerner wrote this docketing, with the year added in pencil in an unidentified hand.

Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).