Abraham Lincoln to John M. Bush, 18 August 18391Springfield, Augt 18. 1849J. M. Bush, Esq[Esquire]My dear Sir:
Your letter is received– My Opinion is that the Will can not be set aside in toto; that the real wife may, nevertheless, have all the ^legal^ rights of a wife– Specific Articles, thirds– Dower &c[etc] and that the grandson may compel a conveyance of the land to him, which was purchased with his father's money, with that understanding, and that the son "William" will probably in that case lose the bequest of $170– Better file a Petition for Dower of the wife– and a Bill for conveyance, for grandson, soon, so that purchasers can not take without notice. If I do not write again in two or three days, hold these as my mature opinions–2Very truly Yours &cA. Lincoln
<Page 2>SPRINGFIELD Ill.[Illinois]
FREEJ. M. Bush EsqTremontIlls–
A. Lincoln— Springfield
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter, include the address on the last sheet, which was folded to create an envelope.
2“Dower” is a term that refers to the legally protected lifetime right of a woman to one-third of her husband’s lands and personal property. Dower was intended to provide for the support of a widow and her children. Because of this, a husband could not convey property without the consent of his wife. Conveyance is the transfer of title to land from one person, or class of persons, to another by deed or other written instrument.
Christopher A. Schnell, “Wives, Widows, and Will Makers: Woman and the Law of Property,” In Tender Consideration: Women, Families, and the Law in Abraham Lincoln’s Illinois (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003), 129, 133; Joan R. Gundersen, “Women and Inheritance in America,” Inheritance and Wealth in America, ed. by Robert K. Miller Jr. and Stephen J. McNamee (New York: Springer Science and Business Media, 1998), 94; Henry Campbell Black, Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th ed. (St. Paul, MN: West, 1990), 333.
3Lincoln would be in Pekin for the fall session of the Tazewell County Circuit Court, from September 20 to September 25, 1849.
Whether John M. Bush followed Lincoln’s advice and initiated lawsuits to protect the rights of the decedent's widow and heirs is unknown, as are the identities of the widow and heirs.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 20 September 1849, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1849-09-20; 25 September 1849, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1849-09-25.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Grinnell College (Grinnell, IA).