For Immediate Release
Lincoln the lawyer, Lincoln the president
SPRINGFIELD – The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum has added three fascinating Lincoln documents to its collection, thanks to the generosity of a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.
The documents illustrate Lincoln’s duties both as an attorney and a president. One is from an 1851 libel case. Another, a note on White House stationery, apologizes for not being able to review troops. The third proclaims a new treaty between the United States and Belgium.
“We are deeply grateful for this generous donation of amazing documents to the ALPLM,” said Alan Lowe, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. “I am especially excited about the document related to the treaty with Belgium. Lincoln’s foreign policy genius is an often-overlooked topic, and this document will allow us to better tell that important story.”
The documents were donated by a central Illinois collector who wanted to see them safely preserved and available to future scholars and Lincoln fans.
“It was clear to me that the Lincoln Presidential Library was the best place to see these documents protected and also shared with the world,” the donor said. “They need to be in Springfield.”
The libel case involved two men who had built competing schools in Danville. George W. Casseday wrote an article accusing his rival of abandoning his dead wife’s body to be buried by other people. William Fithian was outraged and hired Lincoln to sue for libel.
In the newly donated letter, Lincoln explains that his client did leave his wife to be buried by someone else, but only because he need to be at the side of his son, who was seriously ill in a town 40 miles away. Lincoln’s client won and was awarded $547.90.
Details of the case can be found by searching “Fithian v. Casseday” at www.LawPracticeOfAbrahamLincoln.org.
The other Lincoln documents are an 1863 note to a general in which the president apologizes for not having time to review a New York military unit, and an 1864 letter instructing the secretary of state to “affix the seal of the United States to my proclamation of the Treaty” with Belgium.
The donation also includes two non-Lincoln items signed by future president William Henry Harrison.
The most important is from 1795, when Harrison was helping to implement the new Treaty of Greenville, which gave the United States possession of most of Ohio and the future site of Chicago. In the brief note, Harrison requests beef, flour and whiskey for the Potawatomi, one of the tribes that signed the historic treaty.
The other is a $41 check Harrison wrote in the 1830s.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, at 212 N. Sixth St. in Springfield, is dedicated to telling the story of America’s 16th president through old-fashioned scholarship and modern technology. It also serves as the state historical library.
The library holds an unparalleled collection of Lincoln material, as well as some 12 million items pertaining to other aspects of Illinois history. Meanwhile, the museum uses traditional exhibits, eye-catching special effects and innovative story-telling techniques to educate visitors.