Lincoln Tells Fellow Lawyer Hezekiah Wead to Get Ready for Trial
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Autograph Letter Signed, to Hezekiah M. Wead. Springfield, Illinois, December 6, 1846. 1 p. Integral address leaf in Lincoln’s hand.
Also for sale as part of the Ultimate Lincoln Collection.
Springfield, December 6, 1846
Yours by the hand of Mr. Davidson was duly received – I will have your declaration filed and rule taken tomorrow, according to Gunter – Your case of Nicholas vs. Herbert, stands on the Docket No. 57, assigned to no particular day for trial – If the opposite party will be ready to try it, as soon as the court will, my opinion is you may come right along – My recollection is that I have never known the trial of a case in this court, delayed beyond the first week, when both parties were ready for trial.
Yours truly, A. Lincoln
[Address, in Lincoln’s hand:] H.M. Wead, Esq./ Lewiston/ Fulton County/ Illinois
[Docketing:] Abraham Lincoln Letter Dec. 6
[Printed Postmark:] Springfield, Ill Dec. 7.
Fellow attorney Hezekiah Wead engaged Lincoln to help with two cases pending in Springfield, Illinois, court. As noted here, Lincoln filed a declaration in one case and provided a status update on the other. Court records no longer exist for this period in Lincoln’s career, so the exact nature of Nicholas vs. Herbert is unknown, although much of his general law practice revolved around debt and land cases. Lincoln’s use of the phrase “according to Gunter” is also curious; Roy Basler, editor of the Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, had been unable to locate any legal scholarship pertaining to anyone named “Gunter.” Instead, he postulated that Lincoln is reverting to a “bit of surveyor’s lingo, the equivalent of ‘according to Hoyle,’ Edmund Gunter being the surveyor’s authority.” Lincoln had been a surveyor for a few years in the 1830s.
Hezekiah Wead migrated from Vermont to Illinois to pursue a legal career. Like Lincoln, he was also interested in public office. Wead was a delegate to the Illinois State Constitutional Convention in 1847. The two men remained friends despite finding themselves on opposite sides of legal cases and political parties. Although Wead was a Democrat, he congratulated Lincoln when he won the 1860 Republican Party nomination, and remained pro-Union , opposing secession and strongly supporting Lincoln’s efforts to crush the rebellion.
Very fine but for small tear at seal. A fragment of the wax seal remains.
Roy Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln Volume I
(New Brunswick: Rutgers, 1953391)
“The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln.”
“Abraham Lincoln – The Surveyor.”