Lincoln & Berry

City: New Salem

County: Sangamon

State: Illinois

Lincoln & Berry was a general merchandise store operated by Abraham Lincoln and William F. Berry. In early 1832, Berry bought half interest in a store from James Herndon. J. Rowan Herndon, Berry's partner, sold his half to Lincoln on credit. After Lincoln's defeat in the state elections in August 1832, Lincoln and Berry opened their establishment with goods on hand, supplemented with whiskey and other stock bought from Henry Sinco and James A. Rutledge. In January 1833, William G. Greene sold Lincoln and Berry the inventory and store of Reuben Radford for $650, and Lincoln and Berry moved their business into Radford's old space. Lincoln and Berry continued to purchase goods, plunging the partnership into debt. Lending credit too easily, buying and selling stock ill-advisedly, and investing poorly, neither partner had much aptitude for the business, and soon they became seriously overextended. Compounding their difficulties was Berry's heavy drinking, which caused him to neglect the store. The business eventually failed, leaving Lincoln with a debt of approximately $1,100--a debt that would continue to bedevil him as late as 1860.

Promissory Note of William F. Berry, Abraham Lincoln and William Green to Reuben Radford; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:75-76.