Maria L. Bullock to Abraham Lincoln, 28 November 1Nov 282
Lexington Der Sir
Your letter 15 was received3 I was glad to hear from you it relieveed my mind we were hearing such sad accounts from every direction I new not what might be the result of this distraction in monied matters there are a few of our best men makeing ansignments of their property that we least suspected but Ken came out wonderfully none of our banks have suspended and things are looking up4 I thank you for the satisfactory explanation of my business and your attention to it and as to the exchange I had not thought of it5 I wish you to use yourYours with esteemMaria L Bullock
<Page 2>own discretion as to sending ^it^ about this time money can be loaned at any precent and would prefer haveing it near me, I hope to see all my dear friends again My health is improveing I am spending them winter in town if any of them write direct to the care of Levi Rodes it will be thown into his Box so that it will reach me
NOV [November] 28To A LincolnSpringfield Illi
NOV [November] 28To A LincolnSpringfield Illi
2Bullock omitted a year of composition for this letter, but it almost certainly dates to the period between 1855 and 1860 when Abraham Lincoln acted as agent in relation to the sale of Springfield property belonging to Bullock, who was Mary Lincoln’s aunt.
Bullock’s request here that friends direct their letters for her through her nephew, Levi T. Rodes, suggests that this was written sometime after Rodes’ father William Rodes died in July 1856 and the younger Rodes rose in seniority in the household. In November 1856, Lincoln also began collecting payment on some of the promissory notes that were used to purchase Bullock’s land. On November 13, 1856, Lincoln deposited into his account at Springfield Marine & Fire Insurance $970 he had collected for Bullock on some such notes and on December 16, 1856, he remitted these funds to her. The timing of these transactions could correlate to this November correspondence on how Lincoln should handle Bullock’s assets.
The editors, however, are currently supplying a year of 1857 for this letter based on Bullock’s references to a “distraction in monied matters” and to the possibility of bank suspensions, which seems to correlate with the financial Panic of 1857, one of the first major suspensions of which was that of the New York office of the Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company in August 1857. This was followed by the suspension of banks along the east coast throughout September, and specie payments were stopped in much of the country by mid-October. The situation soon eased, however, and by December 1857 banks in New York and New England had resumed specie payments, with other cities following suit. By the following summer the situation had improved throughout the United States.
Further support for a date of 1857 for this letter comes from the fact that by late in 1858, another nephew, Charles D. Carr of Kentucky, had taken over corresponding with Lincoln on behalf of an ailing Bullock, and no further letters from Bullock herself to Lincoln after that time have been located.
Lincoln sold land as agent for Bullock, 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=141281; Abraham Lincoln to Maria L. Bullock; Donna D. McCreary, The Kentucky Todds in Lexington Cemetery (Indiana: Lincoln Presentations, 2012), 22-23; Harry E. Pratt, The Personal Finances of Abraham Lincoln (Springfield, IL: Abraham Lincoln Association, 1943), 162, 166; Promissory Note of Nathaniel Hay and John Hay to Maria L. Bullock; Promissory Note of Nathaniel Hay and John Hay to Maria L. Bullock; Bray Hammond, Banks and Politics in America from the Revolution to the Civil War (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1957), 710-13; Charles D. Carr to Abraham Lincoln; Charles D. Carr to Abraham Lincoln; Charles D. Carr to Abraham Lincoln.
3No letter from Lincoln to Bullock bearing the date of November 15, 1857, or of any other year has been located.
4Kentucky banks were among those that fared the best during the Panic of 1857, owing to a strong year in agriculture which provided local financial institutions with liquid assets.
Bray Hammond, Banks and Politics in America from the Revolution to the Civil War, 712.
5One effect of the Panic of 1857 on Illinois financial institutions was increased difficulty in obtaining eastern exchange for their bank bills, which ultimately fell in relative value. By October 1857, eastern exchange was at a ten percent premium for Illinois bills, and in early 1858 it was at a fifteen percent premium.
Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 17 October 1857, 2:1; A. T. Andreas, History of Chicago (Chicago: A. T. Andreas, 1885), 2:618.
Autograph Letter Signed, 3 page(s), Manuscripts Division, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).