Albert Parker to Abraham Lincoln, 7 August 18581
Hon A LincolnDear Sir,
I address you for the purpose of obtaining some legal information & also expressing my opinionsion in regard to our political prospects within the range of my observation, which I assure you I feel reluctant to do knowing that your whole time is absorbed with your legal & Political Duties in the midst midst of a heated Political Campaign of which you have the honor of Comander er ^in^ Chief of the Republican Forces2 I am now living in Livingston Co but expect to return to old Tazewell before Election the Republicans of Livingston are zealously at work & there is no danger but what our Representative District will send Republican members There ^are^ a great portion of the Democrats here Administration adherants & the National Democracy may expect a liberal vote here.3 Matters in Tazewell are a good deal mixed up part of the Americans are for Buchanan some for Douglass but the majority I think will go with us. I have just finished writing a letter to an american friend near Mackinaw Town urging a hearty Cooperation of the Americans & Republicans in our coming Election We must get them into it or the Douglass men will
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carry the Day. We have talked some of running Lyman Porter Porter of Mackinaw he is down on Douglass but I have not heard any person say that he is for Lincoln do you know, from what I know of him would not like to trust him.4 We propose to give americans the Sheriff but we want a representative that is a reliable Republican although he may have American Sympathies5 John [...?] Edward Durham are gouging you. Ed,, openly avows himself a Douglass man he & John both say that you did all in your power to defeat John for the Senate6 I tell John he killed himself at Tremont the time he interrupted you, if you would humor John a little I think he would go for you.7 If you would make a speech at Mackinaw it would undoubtedly help our Cause very much.8 If we can carry Tazewell & a few other counties through the center of the State, that were represented by Democrats I think we will have a sure thing The settlers settlers here are ^mostly ^ living on land held by Contract with the central Rail Road Company Most of them bought from Col Gridley of Gridley ^Bloomington^ who acted as agent for the Company taking the purchasers Note for one half Dollar per acre on the sale payable to him at such time as he could get them [into it?] ^to agree on^
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he is now sueing them can they not successfully plead want of Consideration9 I think the Company violated the provisions of their Charter by taking control of the lands selling them & making the Notes payable to them so that it depends upon the honor of the Company whether they ^purchers^ get Deeds or not. these lands being held in Trust for the security of the Companys Bonds10 Cannot the collection of Gridleys Notes be staied until the parties get Deeds, as there is a question whether they will get them, owing to the almost complete failure of the crops they will not be able to meet there payments they are agoing to have meetings & petition the Company for a renewal of their contract.11 Can the Company eject the occupants under Contract without a foreclosure. Please make some suggestions as to the best policy for us to pursue in the Selections of candidates in Tazewell Co. I suppose you have been consulted upon the R R[Railroad] Land matter and have investigated it Please give me some general idea of it and oblige12 Excuse the many imperfections of this as I write in haste
I am very Respectfully
Your Obedient Sevant[Servant]
Albert ParkerPS I should like to have a reply during next week as there will be a meeting in the neighborhood on Monday the 16th

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Gridley Ills
Augst[August] 713
Hon A LincolnSpringfieldIllinois
[ docketing ]
Albert Parker.15
1Albert Parker wrote and signed this letter, including the address on the envelope.
2Abraham Lincoln had been nominated at the 1858 Illinois Republican Convention to run against incumbent Stephen A. Douglas to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate. At this time the Illinois General Assembly elected the state’s representatives in the U.S. Senate, thus the outcome of races for the Illinois House of Representatives and Illinois Senate were of importance to Lincoln’s campaign. Lincoln and Douglas both focused their campaign efforts on the former Whig stronghold of central Illinois, where the state legislative races were the closest.
Allen C. Guelzo, “Houses Divided: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Political Landscape of 1858,” The Journal of American History 94 (September 2007), 394, 400-401; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:457-58, 476-77.
3Livingston County was in the Forty-Third Illinois House District, in which Republicans Alexander Campbell and Richardson S. Hick earned 4,139 and 4,089 votes respectively in the election of 1858, defeating Democratic candidates Samuel C. Collins and William Cogswell, who earned 3,383 and 3,412 votes respectively.
The Ottawa Free Trader (IL), 30 October 1858, 2:1; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 4 November 1858, 3:2; Chicago Daily Press and Tribune (IL), 5 November 1858, 1:3; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 220, 222; History of La Salle County, Illinois (Chicago: Inter-State, 1886), 1:281.
4Lincoln had himself written Lyman Porter on August 2, 1858, soliciting his political support and asking that Porter consult with friends in regards to the Illinois House of Representatives race in Tazewell County.
Tazewell County constituted the Thirty-Ninth Illinois House of Representatives District. When the Republicans of Tazewell County met at their county convention in Tremont on August 30, 1858, they selected Richard N. Cullom as their candidate. Cullom ultimately received 1,783 votes in the election, losing to Democrat Robert B. M. Wilson, who earned 1,955 votes.
Summary of Speech at Tremont, Illinois; Summary of Speech at Tremont, Illinois; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 4 November 1858, 3:2; The Weekly Chicago Times (IL), 11 November 1858, 2:5; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac 1673-1968, 220, 222.
5Correspondents David Davis and Thomas J. Pickett had also recently written Lincoln that Tazewell County Republicans were willing to nominate a candidate from the American Party for sheriff in the election of 1858 in exchange for selecting a Republican candidate for the Illinois House of Representatives.
Thomas C. Reeves was nominated for sheriff of Tazewell County at the Republican county convention on August 30, 1858, and following his election served in the role until 1860.
David Davis to Abraham Lincoln; Thomas J. Pickett to Abraham Lincoln; Summary of Speech at Tremont, Illinois; Summary of Speech at Tremont, Illinois; History of Tazewell County Illinois (Chicago: Chas. C. Chapman, 1879), 713.
6John Durham ran unsuccessfully for the Illinois Senate in 1856 in the Seventeenth Illinois Senate District, which included Cass, Logan, Mason, Menard, and Tazewell counties. Democrat Samuel W. Fuller won the race with 4,814 votes, Durham came in second with 4,488 votes, and Richard N. Cullom garnered 195 votes. Durham and Cullom were both Whigs who ultimately became Republicans, but no record of a party nomination for either in the election of 1856 has been located. It seems probable that Durham ran as a candidate of the American Party, and Cullom as a Republican since Durham acted as a presidential elector for American Party candidate Millard Fillmore in that year and Cullom supported Republican presidential nominee John C. Fremont. The 1856 election returns from Cass County seem to support this conclusion. These returns list the candidates, unnamed, by party, with a Democratic candidate who is presumably Fuller, a Republican candidate who received no votes in that county, and an American Party candidate, apparently Durham, who received 704 votes in the county, well over Cullom’s total for the entire district. Lincoln was himself a presidential elector for Fremont in 1856, and actively campaigned on Fremont’s behalf, focusing especially on winning over disaffected former Whigs.
John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac 1673-1968, 219, 221; Lawrence B. Stringer, History of Logan County Illinois (Chicago: Pioneer, 1911), 1:280; The History of Peoria County Illinois (Chicago: Johnson, 1880), 644; Shelby M. Cullom, Fifty Years of Public Service (Chicago: A. C. McClurg, 1911), 3; The Ottawa Free Trader (IL), 17 May 1856, 2:3; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 30 May 1856, 2:4; 20 October 1856, 2:1; 4 November 1858, 3:2; The Weekly Chicago Times (IL), 13 November 1856, 3:1; Daily Illinois State Register (Springfield), 15 November 1856, 2:2; Chicago Daily Press and Tribune (IL), 2 September 1858, 2:1; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, 1:425-32.
7It is uncertain on what occasion John Durham interrupted Lincoln at Tremont, Illinois. One possible event when this may have occurred is a speech that Lincoln was scheduled to give there during the course of the 1856 election campaign.
According to the recollections of Jeriah Bonham, during the campaign of 1858 Lincoln was eager that the former Whigs of Tazewell County who were skeptical of his political positions should attend his speeches. John Durham was one such acquaintance who Lincoln reportedly inquired after for this purpose when he arrived in Peoria to speak during the campaign, likely during his visit of August 18 and 19, 1858.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 4 October 1856,; 18 August 1858,; 19 August 1858,; Jeriah Bonham, Fifty Years’ Recollections with Observations and Reflections on Historical Events Giving Sketches of Eminent Citizens—Their Lives and Public Services (Peoria, IL: J. W. Franks & Sons, 1883), 171.
8No evidence has been found that Lincoln spoke in Mackinaw during the campaign of 1858. He did speak at the county Republican convention in Tremont on August 30, 1858.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 30 August 1858,; Summary of Speech at Tremont, Illinois; Summary of Speech at Tremont, Illinois.
9Parker was one of the people being sued by Asahel Gridley, who had instituted a suit against him in Livingston County Circuit Court on the day before Parker wrote this letter to Lincoln.
In a legal context, “consideration” is a thing such as an act or a forbearance that a promisor bargains for and receives from a promisee and “want of consideration” is a lack of consideration in a contract. Without consideration, an agreement is unenforceable.
In March of 1856 Parker had given Gridley two notes; one note was made out to the Illinois Central Railroad Company for $300 in exchange for the tract of land that Parker was then purchasing, and the second note was made out to Gridley for $300. Parker claimed that his understanding was that this note to Gridley was also made in consideration for the purchase of the land, as he understood Gridley to be an agent of the railroad. Gridley maintained that he had not claimed to be an agent of the railroad, but was instead acting on behalf of Parker and that the $300 note from Parker to him represented his commission for handling the transaction.
Lincoln provided legal opinion to Parker, 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),; Bryan A. Garner, et al., eds., Black’s Law Dictionary, 10th ed. (n.p.: Thomson Reuters, 2014), 370, 1815.
10The act of the Illinois General Assembly that incorporated the Illinois Central Railroad Company allowed the railroad to raise funds by issuing bonds backed by property, including the land owned by the railroad. The charter also included the provision that land sold by the railroad was to be purchased either with cash in hand or bonds of the railroad, with the purchaser receiving absolute title in fee simple from the railroad trustees upon receipt of such payment. Once sold in this manner, the land was released from liability to any bond, and the purchaser was to be vested in “complete and indefeasible” title to the land.
“An Act to Incorporate the Illinois Central Railroad Company,” 10 February 1851, Private Laws of Illinois (1851), 69-70.
11Illinois farmers suffered crop failures in 1858 and the following year due to a combination of weather issues, pests, and disease. In consideration of this and the lingering financial effects of the Panic of 1857, the Illinois Central Railroad Company adopted a policy of granting payment extensions to farmers who had purchased lands from the company, as well as permitting those who could no longer afford all of the land they had contracted for to return a portion of such lands to the company.
Paul Wallace Gates, “The Promotion of Agriculture by the Illinois Central Railroad, 1855-1870,” Agricultural History 5 (April 1931), 60-61.
12Lincoln responded to this letter on August 10, 1858, with his opinion that Gridley would argue that the consideration of the promissory notes was his action as agent in the land purchase. This response by Lincoln appears to be the extent of his involvement in Parker’s dispute with Gridley.
Lincoln provided legal opinion to Parker, Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition,
13An unidentified person wrote this postmark.
14An unidentified person wrote this postage amount.
15Lincoln wrote this docketing.

Autograph Letter Signed, 4 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).