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Receipt of Abraham Lincoln to John Moore, 8 January 18511
$ 25.00/100
NO. 4746
Received of the Auditor WARRANT on the Treasurer of the STATE OF ILLINOIS, for Twenty five Dollars, in full for my services as atty[attorney] in behalf of the State vs the sureties of Comphor2
A. Lincoln
1Abraham Lincoln signed this receipt.
2Lincoln received this fee for his work as plaintiff attorney in a lawsuit between the State of Illinois and William Compher and his sureties. In 1849, Compher, the sheriff of Peoria County, Illinois, executed a bond with a $62,000 penalty that permitted him to collect taxes in the county. In August 1850, the state of Illinois retained Lincoln and sued Compher and his sureties in an action of debt on the bond in the Sangamon County Circuit Court to recover the 1849 state tax that Compher collected but failed to pay into the state treasury. The sureties argued that they should be discharged from their liabilities because the General Assembly changed the tax and revenue laws affecting Compher's duties after they had agreed to be sureties. The court ruled against the sureties and awarded the state the bond's penalty and an additional $7,072.42 in damages. Compher and his fellow defendants appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court, which affirmed the judgment in December 1850. Lincoln and William H. Herndon represented the state in the appeal. Acknowledging Lincoln’s and Herndon's argument, Justice Lyman Trumbull stated that the changes did not prejudice the sureties. Trumbull wrote, "The power to control the revenue is one of the highest attributes of sovereignty. Without this power, no government could exist, and it cannot be supposed that the general assembly intended to part with this important prerogative...."
In September 1851, the state of Illinois filed additional breaches on the bond against Compher and others in the Tazewell County Circuit Court. The court issued a writ of inquiry to assess the damages. Compher motioned to dismiss the writ for a lack of jurisdiction. He claimed that the Tazewell County Circuit Court could not hear the case since Compher and others resided in Peoria County. The court agreed and dismissed the writ of inquiry in May 1853. In June, the state of Illinois appealed the judgment to the Illinois Supreme Court. The court reversed and remanded the case. Justice Samuel H. Treat ruled that the additional breaches were a continuation of the original suit; therefore, the Tazewell County Circuit Court had jurisdiction. The Tazewell County Circuit Court heard the remanded case in May 1854. The Marshall County and Peoria County Circuit Courts also heard the case, and in March 1865, the Peoria County Circuit Court ruled for the state of Illinois and awarded $1,287.97 in damages.
People v. Compher et al., 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=136968; Compher et al. v. People, 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=136971; People v. Compher 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=136969; People v. Compher 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=136972; People v. Compher 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=136970.

Partially Printed Document Signed, 1 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).