The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7

The Hon. Stephen T. Logan, the Hon. Norman H. Purple, the Hon.
David L. Gregg, the Hon. A. Lincoln, and George W. Meeker, Esq.,
were appointed a Committee to prepare resolutions.

Whereupon, the Hon. Stephen T. Logan, in behalf of the
Committee, presented the following preamble and resolutions:

Whereas The Hon. Nathaniel Pope, District Judge of the United
States Court for the District of Illinois, having departed this
life during the last vacation of said Court, and the members of
the Bar of said Court, entertainmg the highest veneration for his
memory, a profound respect for his ability, great experience, and
learning as a judge, and cherishing for his many virtues, public
and private, his earnest simplicity of character and
unostentatious deportment, both in his public and private
relations, the most lively and affectionate recollections, have

Resolved, That, as a manifestation of their deep sense of the
loss which has been sustained in his death, they will wear the
usual badge of mourning during the residue of the term.

Resolved, That the Chairman communicate to the family of the
deceased a copy of these proceedings, with an assurance of our
sincere condolence on account of their heavy bereavement.

Resolved, That the Hon. A. Williams, District Attorney of this
Court, be requested in behalf of the meeting to present these
proceedings to the Circuit Court, and respectfully to ask that
they may be entered on the records.

E. N. POWELL, Sec’y.



JULY 1, 1850

DISCOURAGE LITIGATION. Persuade your neighbors to compromise
whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is
often a real loser-in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a
peace-maker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good
man. There will still be business enough.

Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found than
one who does this. Who can be more nearly a fiend than he who
habitually over-hauls the register of deeds in search of defects
in titles, whereon to stir up strife, and put money in his
pocket? A moral tone ought to be infused into the profession
which should drive such men out of it.

The matter of fees is important, far beyond the mere question of
bread and butter involved. Properly attended to, fuller justice
is done to both lawyer and client. An exorbitant fee should
never be claimed. As a general rule never take your whole fee in
advance, nor any more than a small retainer. When fully paid
beforehand, you are more than a common mortal if you can feel the
same interest in the case as if something was still in prospect
for you, as well as for your client. And when you lack interest
in the case the job will very likely lack skill and diligence in
the performance. Settle the amount of fee and take a note in
advance. Then you will feel that you are working for something,
and you are sure to do your work faithfully and well. Never sell
a fee note–at least not before the consideration service is
performed. It leads to negligence and dishonesty–negligence by
losing interest in the case, and dishonesty in refusing to refund
when you have allowed the consideration to fail.

This idea of a refund or reduction of charges from the lawyer in
a failed case is a new one to me–but not a bad one.




January 2, 1851

DEAR JOHNSTON:–Your request for eighty dollars I do not think it
best to comply with now. At the various times when I have helped
you a little you have said to me, “We can get along very well
now”; but in a very short time I find you in the same difficulty
again. Now, this can only happen by some defect in your conduct.
What that defect is, I think I know. You are not lazy, and still
you are an idler. I doubt whether, since I saw you, you have
done a good whole day’s work in any one day. You do not very
much dislike to work, and still you do not work much merely
because it does not seem to you that you could get much for it.
This habit of uselessly wasting time is the whole difficulty; it
is vastly important to you, and still more so to your children,
that you should break the habit. It is more important to them,
because they have longer to live, and can keep out of an idle
habit before they are in it, easier than they can get out after
they are in.

You are now in need of some money; and what I propose is, that
you shall go to work, “tooth and nail,” for somebody who will
give you money for it. Let father and your boys take charge of
your things at home, prepare for a crop, and make the crop, and
you go to work for the best money wages, or in discharge of any
debt you owe, that you can get; and, to secure you a fair reward
for your labor, I now promise you, that for every dollar you
will, between this and the first of May, get for your own labor,
either in money or as your own indebtedness, I will then give you
one other dollar. By this, if you hire yourself at ten dollars a
month, from me you will get ten more, making twenty dollars a
month for your work. In this I do not mean you shall go off to
St. Louis, or the lead mines, or the gold mines in California,
but I mean for you to go at it for the best wages you can get
close to home in Coles County. Now, if you will do this, you
will be soon out of debt, and, what is better, you will have a
habit that will keep you from getting in debt again. But, if I
should now clear you out of debt, next year you would be just as
deep in as ever. You say you would almost give your place in
heaven for seventy or eighty dollars. Then you value your place
in heaven very cheap, for I am sure you can, with the offer I
make, get the seventy or eighty dollars for four or five months’
work. You say if I will furnish you the money you will deed me
the land, and, if you don’t pay the money back, you will deliver
possession. Nonsense! If you can’t now live with the land, how
will you then live without it? You have always been kind to me,
and I do not mean to be unkind to you. On the contrary, if you
will but follow my advice, you will find it worth more than
eighty times eighty dollars to you.

Affectionately your brother,



SPRINGFIELD, Jan. 11, 1851.


MY DEAR SIR:–Our case is decided against us. The decision was
announced this morning. Very sorry, but there is no help. The
history of the case since it came here is this. On Friday
morning last, Mr. Joy filed his papers, and entered his motion
for a mandamus, and urged me to take up the motion as soon as
possible. I already had the points and authority sent me by you
and by Mr. Goodrich, but had not studied them. I began preparing
as fast as possible.

The evening of the same day I was again urged to take up the
case. I refused on the ground that I was not ready, and on which
plea I also got off over Saturday. But on Monday (the 14th) I
had to go into it. We occupied the whole day, I using the large
part. I made every point and used every authority sent me by
yourself and by Mr. Goodrich; and in addition all the points I
could think of and all the authorities I could find myself. When
I closed the argument on my part, a large package was handed me,
which proved to be the plat you sent me.

The court received it of me, but it was not different from the
plat already on the record. I do not think I could ever have
argued the case better than I did. I did nothing else, but
prepare to argue and argue this case, from Friday morning till
Monday evening. Very sorry for the result; but I do not think it
could have been prevented.

Your friend, as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, January 12, 1851

DEAR BROTHER:–On the day before yesterday I received a letter
from Harriet, written at Greenup. She says she has just returned
from your house, and that father is very low and will hardly
recover. She also says you have written me two letters, and
that, although you do not expect me to come now, you wonder that
I do not write.

I received both your letters, and although I have not answered
them it is not because I have forgotten them, or been
uninterested about them, but because it appeared to me that I
could write nothing which would do any good. You already know I
desire that neither father nor mother shall be in want of any
comfort, either in health or sickness, while they live; and I
feel sure you have not failed to use my name, if necessary, to
procure a doctor, or anything else for father in his present
sickness. My business is such that I could hardly leave home
now, if it was not as it is, that my own wife is sick abed. (It
is a case of baby-sickness, and I suppose is not dangerous.) I
sincerely hope father may recover his health, but at all events,
tell him to remember to call upon and confide in our great and
good and merciful Maker, who will not turn away from him in any
extremity. He notes the fall of a sparrow, and numbers the hairs
of our heads, and He will not forget the dying man who puts his
trust in Him. Say to him that if we could meet now it is
doubtful whether it would not be more painful than pleasant, but
that if it be his lot to go now, he will soon have a joyous
meeting with many loved ones gone before, and where the rest of
us, through the help of God, hope ere long to join them.

Write to me again when you receive this.




MAY 13, 1851.


Your Petitioner, Joshua Gipson, respectfully represents that on
or about the 21st day of December, 1850, a judgment was rendered
against your Petitioner for costs, by J. C. Spugg, one of the
Justices of the Peace in and for said County of Sangamon, in a
suit wherein your Petitioner was plaintiff and James L. and C.
B. Gerard were defendants; that said judgment was not the result
of negligence on the part of your Petitioner; that said judgment,
in his opinion, is unjust and erroneous in this, that the
defendants were at that time and are indebted to this Petitioner
in the full amount of the principal and interest of the note sued
on, the principal being, as affiant remembers and believes,
thirty-one dollars and eighty two cents; and that, as affiant is
informed and believes, the defendants succeeded in the trial of
said cause by proving old claims against your petitioner, in set-
off against said note, which claims had been settled, adjusted
and paid before said note was executed. Your Petitioner further
states that the reasons of his not being present at said trial,
as he was not, and of its not being in his power to take an
appeal in the ordinary way, as it was not, were that your
Petitioner then resided in Edgar County about one hundred and
twenty miles from where defendants resided; that a very short
time before the suit was commenced your Petitioner was in
Sangamon County for the purpose of collecting debts due him, and
with the rest, the note in question, which note had then been
given more than a year, that your Petitioner then saw the
defendant J. L. Gerard who is the principal in said note, and
solicited payment of the same; that said defendant then made no
pretense that he did not owe the same, but on the contrary
expressly promised that he would come into Springfield, in a very
few days and either pay the money, or give a new note, payable by
the then next Christmas; that your Petitioner accordingly left
said note with said J. C. Spugg, with directions to give
defendant full time to pay the money or give the new note as
above, and if he did neither to sue; and then affiant came home
to Edgar County, not having the slightest suspicion that if suit
should be brought, the defendants would make any defense
whatever; and your Petitioner never did in any way learn that
said suit had been commenced until more than twenty days after it
had been decided against him. He therefore prays for a writ of



SPRINGFIELD, Aug. 31, 1851

Inclosed is the deed for the land. We are all well, and have
nothing in the way of news. We have had no Cholera here for
about two weeks.

Give my love to all, and especially to Mother.

Yours as ever,



SHELBYVILLE, Nov. 4, 1851


When I came into Charleston day before yesterday I learned that
you are anxious to sell the land where you live, and move to
Missouri. I have been thinking of this ever since, and cannot
but think such a notion is utterly foolish. What can you do in
Missouri better than here? Is the land richer? Can you there,
any more than here, raise corn and wheat and oats without work?
Will anybody there, any more than here, do your work for you? If
you intend to go to work, there is no better place than right
where you are; if you do not intend to go to work you cannot get
along anywhere. Squirming and crawling about from place to place
can do no good. You have raised no crop this year, and what you
really want is to sell the land, get the money and spend it.
Part with the land you have, and, my life upon it, you will never
after own a spot big enough to bury you in. Half you will get
for the land you spend in moving to Missouri, and the other half
you will eat and drink and wear out, and no foot of land will be
bought. Now I feel it is my duty to have no hand in such a piece
of foolery. I feel that it is so even on your own account, and
particularly on Mother’s account. The eastern forty acres I
intend to keep for Mother while she lives; if you will not
cultivate it, it will rent for enough to support her; at least it
will rent for something. Her dower in the other two forties she
can let you have, and no thanks to me.

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