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Lot #8026
Abraham Lincoln

Two weeks after losing his Senate race to Douglas, Lincoln offers legal advice on a disputed patent

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Estimate: $5000+
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Two weeks after losing his Senate race to Douglas, Lincoln offers legal advice on a disputed patent

ALS signed “A. Lincoln,” one page, 7.5 x 12.75, Springfield, November 16, 1858, written on the lower half of a letter to him from Martin Bishop. Before his letter to Lincoln, Bishop has transcribed an agreement whereby the rights to an invention were sold to him in 1856 by the inventors for $2400. Bishop’s letter to Lincoln, in part: “Above please find Copy of County right for ditching machine which I purchased from the parties whose names are attached thereto, and on which right I still owe a portion of the purchase money. They on their part have suffered other parties to infringe on their patent, will not the above assignment of the right to this County be a valid rebut to their claim against me? And as the parties above stated have sued me & they having a Suit now pending in the U.S. Court against others for said infringement will not this act be held as a sufficient cause for Continuance, until the decision of said cause by the U.S. Court. And is it necessary on my part to have the above article recorded in Washington Prior to said decision.”

Lincoln’s letter to Bishop follows, in full: “I do not think ‘the above assignment of the right of the County will be a valid rebut to their claim against you.’ I do not think the fact that the Patentees have a suit pending in the U.S. Court can avail you in defence, or for a continuance of their suit against you—Before you can sue, your assignment should be recorded; but the recording has nothing to do with the suits already brought.” In very good condition, with a few small separations to intersecting folds, scattered toning and soiling, and a few light brushes to Lincoln’s signature.

Having won a suit against the Illinois Central Railroad with Lincoln as his lawyer four years prior, McLean County miller Martin Bishop again sought his help when legal troubles arose in 1858. Facing disputes on the validity of his ownership of a patent for improvements to a plow, and questioning his liability for pending lawsuits involving the invention, Bishop wrote an urgent request for advice to the reputable lawyer. Though Lincoln was feeling the pangs of defeat after his loss to Stephen Douglas in the Senate election two weeks prior, he continued on in his legal practice and promptly replied to his friend’s request. A highly desirable autograph letter from the period that brought him from senatorial defeat in 1858 to presidential success just two years later.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Letter Collection
  • Dates: #553 - Ended June 28, 2018

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