Urial Mills to Abraham Lincoln, 9 July 18581Salem July the 9th 1858Mr A Lincoln Esqr[Esquire]Dear sir
agreeable to my I send you the subjoined Statement of the cases I spoke to you about2 In 1838 I took a large contract on the Great Western Mail Rout; of M K Allexander Commissioner;3 I got a little pay, and but little I made afferts to get my pay, but could accomplish nothing; afterward I wrote to L Trumbull then Secretary of State, who replyed that the book was balanced and I have got my; and the matter rested untill last season I got a letter from the Exchange Bank N.Y stating that I had credits on on their books for Instalments due on an Improvement Bond and If I would send a Power of Atty[Attorney] he would send me the money.4 I did so & he returned It saying that It was uncertain whether I was the owner; I called on Gov Moore for information. he he went into the back room in the Treasurers office & showed me the bond Issued to me; on the back is writen (The property of M K Allexander Issued by mistake) I stated the case to Gov French he says there is only two methods by which I could divest myself of the ownership; one was by a transfer on the records in Person. The other was by Power of Atty; and If neither of those facts appear
<Page 3>It is mine beyond the possibility of a doubt–
he thought I had better make an agreed statement before the Supreme Court–
On the records of the board you will find a no[number] of Bonds Issued to Alexander & then one to me I am unable to determine why It was withheld from me. I suppose that Gen Alexander took the Engineers Estimate had the bond Issued to me & neglected to hand It over. There Is an interest bond also belonging to me–
I place the business in your hands leaving the modus opperandi to be followed to your own good judgement; wishing to have you proceed forthwith and advise me of your doings.5
I am with considerations of esteem your friend & co laborer in the cause of Liberty & equal rightsRespectfully Urial MillsHon A Lincoln
3Section eighteen, sub-section six of the 1837 internal improvement act appropriated $250,000 for a mail route from Vincennes, Indiana, to St. Louis, Missouri. Pursuant to the provisions of the act, the Board of Commissioners of Public Works commenced surveys on the Great Western Mail Route, which surveyors completed by the fall of 1837. In August 1837, Illinois entered into contracts with private firms to construct portions of the route, and construction commenced.
In August 1838, the Board of Commissioners of Public Works of Illinois began accepting proposals for the remaining work to be performed on the Great Western Mail Route in St. Clair, Clinton, and Marion counties. The work included building bridges, constructing dams and culverts, and repairing parts of the road. Milton K. Alexander served as the acting commissioner of the Fourth Judicial Circuit. Mills may be referencing such a contract.
John H. Krenkel, Illinois Internal Improvements 1818-1848 (Cedar Rapids, IA: Torch, 1958), 70, 80, 83; Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 14 July 1838, 3:1.
4Section twenty of the 1837 internal improvement act created a fund for internal improvements—such as the mail route—consisting of money raised by the sale of stocks or state bonds. Mills may have purchased such a bond.
5There is no record that Abraham Lincoln helped Mills collected the debt or responded to this letter.
Mills asked Lincoln to collect debt, 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), https://lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Details.aspx?case=141413.
Autograph Letter Signed, 4 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).