William M. Fishback to Abraham Lincoln, 17 May 18581
Mr Abrm Lincoln:Dear Sir:
I received a communication, some short time since, from Mr David Yates informing me that you had expressed a wish to employ some young man to attend to some legal business the precise nature of which he omitted to mention— also that you had intimated a wish to employ me.2
I have to-night received a communication of similar purport from Mr C. H. Smith.
I must in candor say to you that my knowledge of Law is as yet but
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limitted, having but just entered the field, but whether sufficient to attend to the business in question, I, of course, can not be able to determine until I know its nature! I shall be in Springfield either in the latter part of this week or the first of next–3
Whether competent or not I am not the less grateful for the kindness of the offer and therefore beg leave to subscribe myself
Yr[Your] obliged friendW. M. Fishback

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CARROLLTON Ill.[Illinois]
MAY 18
MrAbrm LincolnSpringfieldIll.
[ docketing ]
W. Fishback4
[ docketing ]
Needs no answer–
1William M. Fishback wrote and signed this letter.
2In January 1858, Abraham Lincoln and William H. Herndon represented Samuel C. Davis and Company in a lawsuit in the United States District Court, Southern District of Illinois. The company had received a promissory note for $712.16 from Robinson Warner. When Warner failed to pay, Samuel C. Davis and Company retained Lincoln and Herndon and sued him for $1,000. Warner also failed to appear in court, and the company was awarded $744.99 in January 1858. However, in order for the awarded money to be acquired, some of Warner’s land needed to be sold. Lincoln wrote to Davis and Company on November 17, 1858, after they had complained of waiting an excessive amount of time to be paid. Lincoln explained that, “the selling of land on execution is a delicate and dangerous, matter,” and, “that it could not be done safely, without a careful examination of titles, and also of the value of the property–” Lincoln continued to note that in order to complete these tasks, “would require a canvass of half the State.” This letter refers to Lincoln’s interest in hiring Fishback to complete said canvass.
S. C. Davis & Co. v. Warner, 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=137657.
3Fishback agreed to perform the job of canvassing Warner’s land in Illinois for Lincoln and Herndon in exchange for a share of the final compensation due the lawyers. He spent three or four weeks and more than a hundred dollars of his own money to visit every locality where Warner owned land and report on all of the land and titles. Fishback was finally paid $100 by Lincoln and Herndon, through Samuel C. Davis & Company, in December 1858. Although Fishback had moved to Arkansas, Lincoln suggested that he return to Illinois and make a career in performing similar work for future lawsuit judgments. Fishback remained in Arkansas.
Abraham Lincoln to Samuel C. Davis & Company; Abraham Lincoln to William M. Fishback; Carl H. Moneyhon, "Fishback, William Meade," American National Biography , ed. by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 7:954.
4Lincoln wrote this and the following docketing.

Autograph Letter Signed, 3 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).