Nov 25, 2014 - Sale 2368

Sale 2368 - Lot 152

Price Realized: $ 4,750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 6,000 - $ 9,000
(LINCOLN, ABRAHAM.) Bennett, John. Pair of general store account books including an account with young Abraham Lincoln. 556, 612 manuscript pages. 2 volumes. Folio, original calf, minor wear; internally clean and legible, indexed. (TFC) Petersburg, IL, 1836-55

Additional Details

One of Abraham Lincoln's many early careers was as a partner in a general store in New Salem, IL. His business partner died in 1835, however, leaving Lincoln with all of the failing store's debts. Lincoln gave up the store and tried to get by with his small stipends from the Illinois State Legislature and for running the New Salem post office, plus a bit of surveying work on the side. Lacking cash to cover his daily living expenses, he was fortunate to find a general store owner in nearby Petersburg, John Bennett (1805-1885), who was willing to extend him credit.
Bennett's store ledger includes one page devoted in part to Lincoln's account, from February 1836 through April 1837. Lincoln bought a bridle, hip boots, a fur cap, gloves, and more, running up a debt of $25.99. On 15 April 1837, Lincoln moved from New Salem to Springfield. That same day, he settled up his account at Bennett's store, paying $1.17 in cash, with the remainder of the debt being forgiven by Bennett.
Was this balancing of the account a generous gift from Bennett to help out a promising young man? Lincoln had done some surveying work for Bennett, so this may have been a barter arrangement. Lincoln would go on to introduce several amendments and petitions on Bennett's behalf in the legislature in the following years, so the relationship was certainly reciprocal.
For a detailed description of the context and content of Lincoln's account with Bennett, see Wayne C. Temple, "Lincoln and Bennett: The Story of a Store Account," in the Lincoln Herald 69:3 (Fall 1967), pages 107-115 (a copy is included with this lot). Provenance: King V. Hostick; Hindman sale, 20 April 1985, lot 127 to the Forbes Collection.