Receipt of David Leavitt to Abraham Lincoln, 16 March 18531
Received March 16 1853.from David Leavitt, Treasurer for the Board of Trustees of the Illinois & Michigan Canal, by the hands of William Gooding, Secretary, the sum of Twenty Five dollars. for opposing before a Committee of the House Mr Haven's Bill to prevent diverting water from the Des Plains River at Joliet2A. Lincoln–
I hereby certify the above to be correct.Joel Manning3
Mar[March] 16 1853
Mar[March] 16 1853
2It is unclear who filled out this form.
In the late-1830s, prior to the completion of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, Orlando H. Haven and his brother, Philo A. Haven, purchased land in Joliet, Illinois on the banks of the Des Plaines River, built a mill, and dammed the river in order to power the mill. The dam construction was completed late in the fall of 1839, and the Havens erected additional mills at the site as their business grew. Then, on April 20, 1848, the Board of Canal Commissioners for the Illinois and Michigan Canal shut down one of their dams and diverted water from the Des Plaines River into the canal, significantly reducing the waterpower available for the Havens’ mills. In October 1848, Orlando and Philo Haven sued the Board of Canal Commissioners for damages in the Will County Circuit Court. The court ruled in their favor, granting them damages in an unspecified amount, but the State of Illinois appealed the decision. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed the Will County Circuit Court’s decision, but noted that the Havens could still seek damages. The Havens sued again, but, in June 1850, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that because they did not own both sides of the river and had no rights to use the river’s water, they were not entitled to damages.
Despite this blow, in January 1852 Orlando Haven pressed forward with his effort to recoup losses, this time via a private act from the Illinois General Assembly. The Assembly, however, set his petition for a bill aside, as it had already been working on a bill creating a board of commissioners to hear all claims of damages related to the construction of the canal. On August 22, 1852, the General Assembly passed an act, which appointed Lincoln and others to its board. Lincoln and the other board members gathered testimony, then produced a report for the Illinois General Assembly in January 1853. This report included a brief section on Havens’ claims, noting that “no further evidence should be introduced on either side in that case.” The Illinois Supreme Court’s decision was deemed sufficient to end the claim.
Nevertheless, Orlando Haven successfully lobbied Uri Osgood to introduce his petition for a private act for addressing damages to the Illinois Senate. Osgood introduced the bill on January 26, 1853, and, on his motion, the Senate referred the petition to its Committee on Canal and Canal Lands. The bill, which was titled “An Act to Protect the Rights of Certain Mill Owners in the City of Joliet,” passed the Senate on January 31, and was sent to the Illinois House of Representatives for consideration. Trustees for the Illinois and Michigan Canal hired Lincoln to lobby against it. On February 4, the House took up the bill and referred it to its Committee on the Judiciary. Lincoln then used his influence and skills to kill the bill, a service for which this receipt shows he received $25 in remuneration.
Wayne C. Temple, “A. Lincoln, Lobbyist,” Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association 21 (Summer 2000), 35-40; “An Act to Constitute a Commission to Take Evidence in Relation to Certain Claims,” 22 August 1852, Laws of Illinois (1852), 152-54; Illinois Senate Journal. 1853. 18th G. A., 168-69, 228-29; Illinois House Journal. 1853. 18th G. A., 410; Lincoln represented Illinois & Michigan Canal before legislature, 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=141731.
Partially Printed Document Signed, 2 page(s), Lincolniana, Illinois State Archives (Springfield, IL).