George W. Meeker to Abraham Lincoln, 9 June 18491Springfield
Saturday 9th June 1849.
Will Mr Lincoln please call upon Mr Carroll, Clerk of the Supreme Ct of the U States, and request him to send to Springfield a fee bill in the case of The United States vs The City of Chicago.2
Dispatch is essential, as I want it before I leave Springfield. By so doing Mr Lincoln will much obligehis friendGeo. W. Meeker.Will you please mail at Indianapolis the enclosed letter— or at any other place in Indiana where it may be convenient, nearest to Cleveland.
<Page 2>Hon. A. Lincoln.
2The case of the United States v. the city of Chicago began in December 1845. Chicago wanted to extend streets into the area of Fort Dearborn, an abandoned federal government property. The city passed an ordinance to remove the obstructions in the fort to extend the streets. The United States filed for an injunction to prevent the city from destroying federal property. The United States claimed that the buildings still belonged to the federal government. The city claimed that the Secretary of War had laid out an addition, called the Fort Dearborn Addition to Chicago, and that the city was simply carrying out those plans. The District Court granted the injunction, and upon the hearing for a continuance, the District and Circuit courts differed in opinion. The District Court certified three questions to the U. S. Supreme Court to determine, in effect, whether Chicago had the right to open city streets through federal property. Justice Levi Woodbury ruled that since the United States had not sold any land in the Fort Dearborn area, the city had no right to open streets through it. Justice John Catron dissented; he argued that the questions that the District Court certified had decided the entire case and that the Supreme Court therefore had no jurisdiction in the matter. Abraham Lincoln monitored the case in the Supreme Court for J. Young Scammon, the defense attorney for the city of Chicago, but Lincoln did not argue the case before the Supreme Court. The U.S. Circuit Court finally dismissed the case in 1870.
Meeker’s involvement in this case is unknown. If William T. Carroll sent a fee bill, it is not extant.
United States v. Chicago, Illinois, 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=137751.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).