Nov 25, 2014 - Sale 2368

Sale 2368 - Lot 153

Price Realized: $ 5,460
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 8,000 - $ 12,000
"ABRAHAM LINCOLN IS A MAN OF GOOD MORAL CHARACTER" (LINCOLN, ABRAHAM.) Minute book of the Sangamon County Circuit Court. 315 manuscript pages in the hand of William Butler, clerk. Folio, original 1/2 calf, rebacked and recornered; minor dampstaining, minor wear and foxing, Lincoln page worn with a closed tear not affecting text. (TFC) Springfield, IL, 6 July 1835 to 7 July 1838

Additional Details

In early 1836, Abraham Lincoln was a 27-year-old bachelor in New Salem, IL, receiving a small stipend as a first-term state legislator which he supplemented with surveying work and an appointment as the New Salem postmaster. For about a year, he had been reading legal textbooks in an effort to improve his career prospects. The first step in formal certification as a lawyer was accomplished by a 24 March 1836 entry in this volume:
"Ordered that it be certified of to all whom it may concern that Abraham Lincoln is a man of good moral character."
Lincoln is later mentioned twice regarding the 17 October 1837 case of White vs. Harris, where "A Lincoln appointed guardian ad litem to William Nelson, minor." We've traced no other direct references to Lincoln in the remainder of the volume, but it gives a flavor of the court where he began his legal career. We can also find indirect references by cross-referencing dates with the indispensable reference book, "Lincoln Day by Day" by Miers. For example, Miers notes that Lincoln filed his first lawsuit plea on 5 October 1836. The minute book doesn't mention Lincoln, but does note the case: "Wooldridge vs. Hawthorn, deff ruled to give security by calling of cause." The case is mentioned again on 14 March 1837, where Miers tells us that Lincoln represented the plaintiff: "Dismissed at the defendant's cost." Numerous other Lincoln cases can be traced in this manner. See Miers, Lincoln Day by Day, page I:56, 60, 70. Provenance: Sotheby Parke Bernet's Roy P. Crocker sale, 28 November 1979, lot 229, to the Forbes Collection.