David A. Smith to Abraham Lincoln, 8 March 18551Jacksonville March 8th 1855Dear Lincoln
I understand that Judge Treat has resigned his Ch. Jus. [Chief Justice] ship to accept Judgeship of Cir Ct.[Circuit Court] of U.S. for a new District.2 McConnel I understand avows himself a candidate to succeed Treat. I fancy there is no particular danger of Mc[McConnel]'s election.3 I hope that on A/c.[Account] of Logans being elected to the Legislature there is no constitutional objection to his eligibility—4 & that he will consent to the use of his name. It seems to me that for public & patriotic considerations he ought to consent to be run & that if he does so there can be no doubt of his being elected. How does this matter lay in your mind?5Truly your friendDavid A. Smith
<Page 2>P. S. I send you a memorandum of conveyance in case of H–6 I have no doubt I have the hang of the matter in the Bill which I filed for you next Term in name of you & myself–7 I want you to give most thorough attention to the matter— as the Alton men saw fit to commit it to my care– I should like to know how our cy pres case is like to turn up.8D. A. S.
2In February 1855, Congress divided Illinois into two judicial districts—the Northern District of Illinois, which held court in Chicago, and the Southern District of Illinois, which held court in Springfield. In March 1855, Treat resigned from the Illinois Supreme Court to become judge of the newly created U.S. Circuit Court, Southern District of Illinois.
"An Act to Divide the State of Illinois into Two Judicial Districts," 13 February 1855, Statutes at Large of the United States 10 (1855):606-7; Louis L. Emmerson, ed., Blue Book of the State of Illinois, 1923-1924 (Springfield: Illinois State Journal, 1923), 613; John M. Palmer, ed., The Bench and Bar of Illinois: Historical and Reminiscent (Chicago: Lewis, 1899), 1:35; “Illinois Supreme Court Terms and Justices,” Reference, Chronologies, 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/Reference%20html%20files/Chronology--ISC.html.
3McConnel could not be positively identified. John L. McConnel and Murray McConnel are the most likely referents. Neither became a candidate for election to the Illinois Supreme Court.
Daily Illinois State Register (Springfield), 9 June 1855, 2:1.
4Stephen T. Logan represented the Whig party for Sangamon County in the 1855 Illinois House of Representatives.
List of Members of the Illinois Legislature in 1855; Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 2 January 1855, 2:3.
5Abraham Lincoln expressed his support for Logan in a letter to Henry E. Dummer on March 19, 1855, “I am quite anxious for Logan's election, first, because he will make the best Judge, & second because it would hurt his feelings to be beaten worse than it would almost any one else.”
In June 1855, Onius C. Skinner defeated Logan to succeed Treat on the Illinois Supreme Court as an associate justice. Walter B. Scates took over the role of chief justice.
“Illinois Supreme Court Terms and Justices,” Reference, Chronologies, Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Reference/Reference%20html%20files/Chronology--ISC.html; John Dean Caton, Early Bench and Bar of Illinois (Chicago: The Chicago Legal News, 1893), 94; Abraham Lincoln to Henry C. Whitney.
6A memorandum from Smith to Lincoln has not been located. Smith may be referencing the case of Gilman et al. v. Hamilton et al., for which both Lincoln and Smith served as appellant attorneys.
Gilman et al. v. Hamilton et al., 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=139112.
7Smith is almost certainly referring to the case of E. L. Dimmock & Co. v. Whitney et al. In October 1853, the Sangamon County Circuit Court awarded E. L. Dimmock & Co. a judgment of $182.72 against Joseph B. Whitney and Selden C. Whitney. After failing to collect the judgment, E. L. Dimmock & Co. discovered that Isabella Whitney, the wife of Selden, had received some land. E. L. Dimmock & Co. retained Lincoln and Smith and sued Selden and Isabella Whitney in the Sangamon County Circuit Court to sell the land to satisfy the judgment. Smith wrote a bill of complaint to Judge David Davis on January 31, 1855 on behalf of E. L. Dimmick & Co. for money owed by the defendants. The parties apparently reached a settlement, as E. L. Dimmock & Co. dismissed the case in June 1855.
Bill of Complaint, Document ID: 98530, E. L. Dimmock & Co. v. Whitney et al., 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=139892.
8It is uncertain what particular case to which Smith is referring. Cy pres is a legal term for the rule of equity, “by which the intention of the party is carried out as near as may be, when it would be impossible or illegal to give it literal effect.”
Henry Campbell Black, Black’s Law Dictionary, 5th ed. (St. Paul, MN: West, 1979), 349.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).