LINCOLN, Abraham. Autograph legal document signed ("Lincoln & Herndon"), "The Answer of Charles H. Buck and Wiley S. Wright...to the Bill in Chancery of George R. Weber, Thomas Condell, and Sophia Bledsoe...in Sangamon Circuit Court," 20 January 1853. 2 pages, folio, blue legal paper, discreetly silked, otherwise in fine condition.
LINCOLN THE LAWYER ON THE EVE OF LAUNCHING HIS POLITICAL CAREER
A LENGTHY PLEADING (COMPRISING SOME 300 WORDS) ENTIRELY IN LINCOLN'S HAND from a busy chapter in Lincoln's legal practice. At issue was $1,000 paid by Lumsden to Weber for several lots. Lumsden's money, Lincoln argues, was given to him by George A. Lamb to purchase the lots, "therefore said Lumsden never had any interest in said lots, except in trust for Lamb." Lincoln's clients, Buck & Wright, were the "bona fide creditors of said Lamb" and his partner, Miller. Buck & Wright had won a judgment against Lamb and Miller in March 1853 for $854.07 plus costs. Lamb had also won a judgment against Lumsden for $402.82; he assigned the judgment to Buck & Wright "so that," Lincoln writes, they "are now the bona fide owners of both said judgments," and "both remain unpaid." Lincoln asks that the court grant respondents their rights to surplus proceeds of any sales of lots and that the petition against them be discharged.
Lincoln's legal career and his political passions were heating up simultaneously in the early 1850s. In the 1852 presidential campaign he stumped on behalf of Winfield Scott. Pierce's victory--and Lincoln's all too brief taste of the political limelight--made it increasingly hard for him to keep his nose to the legal grindstone. Herndon sensed an increased moodiness in his partner at this time, and noticed growing friction in the Lincoln household. The next year, 1854, when Stephen A. Douglas put his Kansas-Nebraska bill into the Senate hopper, Lincoln was among the millions of Americans who were (as he put it) "thunderstruck and stunned" by this blatant move to void the Missouri Compromise and spread slavery northward and westward. Now he simply had to take action, and did, stumping across the state against Douglas and his bill, putting himself forward as the Whig Senatorial candidate, and launching in earnest the political career that would ultimately propel him into the White House seven years later.