LINCOLN, Abraham, President. Autograph letter signed ("A. Lincoln") to Dr. W. W. R. Woodbury and Dr. William Fithian in Danville, Illinois; Springfield, 26 January 1854. 1 pages, 4to, on pale blue bond paper, short fold separation, otherwise in excellent condition, with a fine signature. Enclosed in a custom-made half calf clamshell protective case.
LINCOLN'S ADVICE IN THE CASE OF A DOCTOR'S ESTATE
A detailed letter of legal counsel. After a brief two-year stint in Congress, Lincoln returned to Springfield, Illinois in 1749 and resumed his successful practice of the law, sometimes in partnership with Ward H. Lamon (1828-1893), with whom he established an office in Danville in 1852. Here, Lincoln responds in detail to the doctors' inquiry on behalf of a physician's widow, Mrs. J.A.D. Sconce, regarding his estate. Woodbury had been in partnership with Dr. Sconce in an apothecary shop and Sconce had studied medicine under Fithian. Lincoln writes: "Your letter is received. You say Mrs. Sconce will relinquish her rights under the Will. This she must do, in order to get her legal rights. My opinion on all the questions asked is as follows. She will have Dower (that is one third for life) in the lands, for which the Dr. assigned the certificates, and she will have nothing more in those lands. (I suppose the lands lie in this State). If the Dr. was in his right mind, he could give away the notes and money; and if he did so, it will stand; so that this part of the case depends upon how the fact may prove to be. Whoever administers [the estate] must claim the notes and money, and contest with them, for them. She need give no notice to the General Land office."
At issue in this matter were certain lands deeded to the widow's only child, deceased. Lincoln clarifies its status: "I infer that when Dr. Sconce died neither he nor his wife had any living child; and if I am right in this, then Mrs. Sconce will hold th[r]ee quarters of the land deeded to the child--thus--the child dying without brother or sister the land went in halves, or equal parts to the father and mother, and the father afterwards dying without a living child, one half of his half went to his wife--making up three quarters. Then having the deed to the child will do no harm." In closing, he cautions them to inform Lamon of the matter, "lest he [Lamon] should, unawares, commit me to the other side."