LINCOLN, Abraham (1809-1865), President. Autograph manuscript SIGNED FIVE TIMES ("Lincoln & Herndon"), CONTAINING ABOUT 300 WORDS IN LINCOLN'S HAND, n.p. [Springfield, Illinois?], [filed 31 March 1855]. 1½ pages, folio, 315 x 200mm., in dark ink on light blue legal stationery, slight separation along one horizontal fold, otherwise in extremely fine, fresh condition. Endorsed on verso by Lincoln "Lindley & Baker...."
LINCOLN AND HERNDON FOR THE DEFENSE: A MONTH AFTER LINCOLN'S DEFEAT AS A CANDIDATE FOR THE SENATE
A very lengthy legal document dating from Lincoln's last and most famous partnership with William Henry Herndon (1818-1891), later his controversial biographer. The Lincoln-Herndon association began in 1844 and lasted until Lincoln became the Republican presidential nominee in 1860. Here, referring to the case of Ulysses Lindly and Theodore Baker versus John Williams, Lincoln enters a plea of Actio non on behalf of the defendants: "And the said defendants...say plaintiff actio non because...at and before the time when, said Mechanic's and Farmer's Bank assumed to arrange said note, by their President, said bank had, on lawful demand, failed and refused to redeem in lawful money...one of the circulating notes, made by said bank...And for further plea...the defendants...say that at and before the time when said Mechanic's and Farmer's Bank assumed to assign said note...[they] had omitted to pay the said note, and this the defendent is ready to verify..." A further three pleas of actio non are entered by Lincoln on behalf of his clients; the last one stating that "the said Thomas Lewis, at the time he assumed to assign said note, had not full power and authority to make said assignment..." Each plea is separately signed "Lincoln & Herndon p.d." Not in Collected Works, ed. R.P. Basler and presumably unpublished.
After he failed to win a U.S. Senate seat in balloting in February 1855, Lincoln continued his very active law practice in Springfield and became one of the most prominent attorneys in Illinois. While he remained a Whig, he was open to new political affiliations, and when the anti-slavery forces called a state convention at Bloomington, on 29 May he delivered a stirring address (since known as the "lost speech"). While he stumped actively for the J.G. Fremont, the Presidential candidate of the fledgling Republican Party, it was not until 1856 that Lincoln formally allied himself with the new party.