The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7

A. LINCOLN, September 6, 1837.



“SANGAMON JOURNAL,” Springfield, Ill, Oct.28, 1837.

Such is the turn which things have taken lately, that when Gen.
Adams writes a book, I am expected to write a commentary on it.
In the Republican of this morning he has presented the world with
a new work of six columns in length; in consequence of which I
must beg the room of one column in the Journal. It is obvious
that a minute reply cannot be made in one column to everything
that can be said in six; and, consequently, I hope that
expectation will be answered if I reply to such parts of the
General’s publication as are worth replying to.

It may not be improper to remind the reader that in his
publication of Sept. 6th General Adams said that the assignment
charge was manufactured just before the election; and that in
reply I proved that statement to be false by Keys, his own
witness. Now, without attempting to explain, he furnishes me
with another witness (Tinsley) by which the same thing is proved,
to wit, that the assignment was not manufactured just before the
election; but that it was some weeks before. Let it be borne in
mind that Adams made this statement–has himself furnished two
witnesses to prove its falsehood, and does not attempt to deny or
explain it. Before going farther, let a pin be stuck here,
labeled “One lie proved and confessed.” On the 6th of September
he said he had before stated in the hand-bill that he held an
assignment dated May 20th, 1828, which in reply I pronounced to
be false, and referred to the hand-bill for the truth of what I
said. This week he forgets to make any explanation of this. Let
another pin be stuck here, labelled as before. I mention these
things because, if, when I convict him in one falsehood, he is
permitted to shift his ground and pass it by in silence, there
can be no end to this controversy.

The first thing that attracts my attention in the General’s
present production is the information he is pleased to give to
“those who are made to suffer at his (my) hands.”

Under present circumstances, this cannot apply to me, for I am
not a widow nor an orphan: nor have I a wife or children who
might by possibility become such. Such, however, I have no
doubt, have been, and will again be made to suffer at his hands!
Hands! Yes, they are the mischievous agents. The next thing I
shall notice is his favorite expression, “not of lawyers, doctors
and others,” which he is so fond of applying to all who dare
expose his rascality. Now, let it be remembered that when he
first came to this country he attempted to impose himself upon
the community as a lawyer, and actually carried the attempt so
far as to induce a man who was under a charge of murder to
entrust the defence of his life in his hands, and finally took
his money and got him hanged. Is this the man that is to raise a
breeze in his favor by abusing lawyers? If he is not himself a
lawyer, it is for the lack of sense, and not of inclination. If
he is not a lawyer, he is a liar, for he proclaimed himself a
lawyer, and got a man hanged by depending on him.

Passing over such parts of the article as have neither fact nor
argument in them, I come to the question asked by Adams whether
any person ever saw the assignment in his possession. This is an
insult to common sense. Talbott has sworn once and repeated time
and again, that he got it out of Adams’s possession and returned
it into the same possession. Still, as though he was addressing
fools, he has assurance to ask if any person ever saw it in his

Next I quote a sentence, “Now my son Lucian swears that when
Talbott called for the deed, that he, Talbott, opened it and
pointed out the error.” True. His son Lucian did swear as he
says; and in doing so, he swore what I will prove by his own
affidavit to be a falsehood. Turn to Lucian’s affidavit, and you
will there see that Talbott called for the deed by which to
correct an error on the record. Thus it appears that the error
in question was on the record, and not in the deed. How then
could Talbott open the deed and point out the error? Where a
thing is not, it cannot be pointed out. The error was not in the
deed, and of course could not be pointed out there. This does
not merely prove that the error could not be pointed out, as
Lucian swore it was; but it proves, too, that the deed was not
opened in his presence with a special view to the error, for if
it had been, he could not have failed to see that there was no
error in it. It is easy enough to see why Lucian swore this.
His object was to prove that the assignment was not in the deed
when Talbott got it: but it was discovered he could not swear
this safely, without first swearing the deed was opened–and if
he swore it was opened, he must show a motive for opening it, and
the conclusion with him and his father was that the pointing out
the error would appear the most plausible.

For the purpose of showing that the assignment was not in the
bundle when Talbott got it, is the story introduced into Lucian’s
affidavit that the deeds were counted. It is a remarkable fact,
and one that should stand as a warning to all liars and
fabricators, that in this short affidavit of Lucian’s he only
attempted to depart from the truth, so far as I have the means of
knowing, in two points, to wit, in the opening the deed and
pointing out the error and the counting of the deeds,–and in
both of these he caught himself. About the counting, he caught
himself thus–after saying the bundle contained five deeds and a
lease, he proceeds, “and I saw no other papers than the said deed
and lease.” First he has six papers, and then he saw none but
two; for “my son Lucian’s” benefit, let a pin be stuck here.

Adams again adduces the argument, that he could not have forged
the assignment, for the reason that he could have had no motive
for it. With those that know the facts there is no absence of
motive. Admitting the paper which he has filed in the suit to be
genuine, it is clear that it cannot answer the purpose for which
he designs it. Hence his motive for making one that he supposed
would answer is obvious. His making the date too old is also
easily enough accounted for. The records were not in his hands,
and then, there being some considerable talk upon this particular
subject, he knew he could not examine the records to ascertain
the precise dates without subjecting himself to suspicion; and
hence he concluded to try it by guess, and, as it turned out,
missed it a little. About Miller’s deposition I have a word to
say. In the first place, Miller’s answer to the first question
shows upon its face that he had been tampered with, and the
answer dictated to him. He was asked if he knew Joel Wright and
James Adams; and above three-fourths of his answer consists of
what he knew about Joseph Anderson, a man about whom nothing had
been asked, nor a word said in the question–a fact that can only
be accounted for upon the supposition that Adams had secretly
told him what he wished him to swear to.

Another of Miller’s answers I will prove both by common sense and
the Court of Record is untrue. To one question he answers,
“Anderson brought a suit against me before James Adams, then an
acting justice of the peace in Sangamon County, before whom he
obtained a judgment.

“Q.–Did you remove the same by injunction to the Sangamon
Circuit Court? Ans.–I did remove it.”

Now mark–it is said he removed it by injunction. The word
“injunction” in common language imports a command that some
person or thing shall not move or be removed; in law it has the
same meaning. An injunction issuing out of chancery to a justice
of the peace is a command to him to stop all proceedings in a
named case until further orders. It is not an order to remove
but to stop or stay something that is already moving. Besides
this, the records of the Sangamon Circuit Court show that the
judgment of which Miller swore was never removed into said Court
by injunction or otherwise.

I have now to take notice of a part of Adams’s address which in
the order of time should have been noticed before. It is in
these words: “I have now shown, in the opinion of two competent
judges, that the handwriting of the forged assignment differed
from mine, and by one of them that it could not be mistaken for
mine.” That is false. Tinsley no doubt is the judge referred
to; and by reference to his certificate it will be seen that he
did not say the handwriting of the assignment could not be
mistaken for Adams’s–nor did he use any other expression
substantially, or anything near substantially, the same. But if
Tinsley had said the handwriting could not be mistaken for
Adams’s, it would have been equally unfortunate for Adams: for it
then would have contradicted Keys, who says, “I looked at the
writing and judged it the said Adams’s or a good imitation.”

Adams speaks with much apparent confidence of his success on
attending lawsuits, and the ultimate maintenance of his title to
the land in question. Without wishing to disturb the pleasure of
his dream, I would say to him that it is not impossible that he
may yet be taught to sing a different song in relation to the

At the end of Miller’s deposition, Adams asks, Will Mr. Lincoln
now say that he is almost convinced my title to this ten acre
tract of land is founded in fraud?” I answer, I will not. I will
now change the phraseology so as to make it run–I am quite
convinced, &c. I cannot pass in silence Adams’s assertion that
he has proved that the forged assignment was not in the deed when
it came from his house by Talbott, the recorder. In this,
although Talbott has sworn that the assignment was in the bundle
of deeds when it came from his house, Adams has the unaccountable
assurance to say that he has proved the contrary by Talbott. Let
him or his friends attempt to show wherein he proved any such
thing by Talbott.

In his publication of the 6th of September he hinted to Talbott,
that he might be mistaken. In his present, speaking of Talbott
and me he says “They may have been imposed upon.” Can any man of
the least penetration fail to see the object of this? After be
has stormed and raged till he hopes and imagines he has got us a
little scared he wishes to softly whisper in our ears, “If you’l1
quit I will.” If he could get us to say that some unknown,
undefined being had slipped the assignment into our hands without
our knowledge, not a doubt remains but that be would immediately
discover that we were the purest men on earth. This is the
ground he evidently wishes us to understand he is willing to
compromise upon. But we ask no such charity at his hands. We
are neither mistaken nor imposed upon. We have made the
statements we have because we know them to be true and we choose
to live or die by them.

Esq. Carter, who is Adams’s friend, personal and political, will
recollect, that, on the 5th of this month, he (Adams), with a
great affectation of modesty, declared that he would never
introduce his own child as a witness. Notwithstanding this
affectation of modesty, he has in his present publication
introduced his child as witness; and as if to show with how much
contempt he could treat his own declaration, he has had this same
Esq. Carter to administer the oath to him. And so important a
witness does he consider him, and so entirely does the whole of
his entire present production depend upon the testimony of his
child, that in it he has mentioned “my son,” “my son Lucian,”
“Lucian, my son,” and the like expressions no less than fifteen
different times. Let it be remembered here, that I have shown
the affidavit of “my darling son Lucian” to be false by the
evidence apparent on its own face; and I now ask if that
affidavit be taken away what foundation will the fabric have left
to stand upon?

General Adams’s publications and out-door maneuvering, taken in
connection with the editorial articles of the Republican, are not
more foolish and contradictory than they are ludicrous and
amusing. One week the Republican notifies the public that Gen.
Adams is preparing an instrument that will tear, rend, split,
rive, blow up, confound, overwhelm, annihilate, extinguish,
exterminate, burst asunder, and grind to powder all its
slanderers, and particularly Talbott and Lincoln–all of which is
to be done in due time.

Then for two or three weeks all is calm–not a word said. Again
the Republican comes forth with a mere passing remark that
“public” opinion has decided in favor of Gen. Adams, and
intimates that he will give himself no more trouble about the
matter. In the meantime Adams himself is prowling about and, as
Burns says of the devil, “For prey, and holes and corners
tryin’,” and in one instance goes so far as to take an old
acquaintance of mine several steps from a crowd and, apparently
weighed down with the importance of his business, gravely and
solemnly asks him if “he ever heard Lincoln say he was a deist.”

Anon the Republican comes again. “We invite the attention of the
public to General Adams’s communication,” &c. “The victory is a
great one, the triumph is overwhelming.” I really believe the
editor of the Illinois Republican is fool enough to think General
Adams leads off–“Authors most egregiously mistaken) &c. Most
woefully shall their presumption be punished,” &c. (Lord have
mercy on us.) “The hour is yet to come, yea, nigh at hand–(how
long first do you reckon ?)–when the Journal and its junto shall
say, I have appeared too early.” “Their infamy shall be laid bare
to the public gaze.” Suddenly the General appears to relent at
the severity with which he is treating us and he exclaims: “The
condemnation of my enemies is the inevitable result of my own
defense.” For your health’s sake, dear Gen., do not permit your
tenderness of heart to afflict you so much on our account. For
some reason (perhaps because we are killed so quickly) we shall
never be sensible of our suffering.

Farewell, General. I will see you again at court if not before–
when and where we will settle the question whether you or the
widow shall have the land.

October 18, 1837.



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