ADS, signed "A. Lincoln," one page, 7.5 x 5, September 17, 1838. Abraham Lincoln pens a handwritten legal document for the Sangamon Circuit Court of Springfield, Illinois. In full: "Jacob Baum & John G. Shelton trading and doing business under the name style and firm of Baum & Shelton vs Peter Van Bergen, Sangamon Circuit Court. I do hereby enter myself security for costs in this case, and acknowledge myself bound to pay or cause to be paid all costs which may occur in this action, either to the opposite party or to any of the officers of this court in pursuance of the laws of this state. Dated this 19th day of September A.D. 1838." in very good to fine condition, with a professional repair to the separated central horizontal fold, and wrinkling to the upper right corner caused by an old tape repair to a tear.
Baum and Shelton were St. Louis merchants who retained the law firm run by fellow Kentuckians John Stuart and Abraham Lincoln and sued Peter Van Bergen for breach of contract. In 1834, Van Bergen had purchased clothing from the plaintiffs valued at $129.75. The parties apparently reached a settlement, in which Van Bergen agreed to pay $159 in damages.
Under the law of the jurisdiction, lawyers had to assert their own responsibility for any costs associated with pursuing legal action, and here Lincoln is stating that he would cover all costs associated with this case. Although legal documents in Lincoln's hand were usually signed with the firm's name—'Stuart & Lincoln'—the fact that the future president enters himself personally as "security for costs" led him to sign with his far more desirable personal signature, "A. Lincoln." Accompanied by a full letter of authenticity from University Archives.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.