Abraham Lincoln, Autograph Document Signed, In the 3rd Person


A Rare, Prominent Example of  Lincoln’s Legal Fees

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Abraham Lincoln writes an agreement on behalf of himself and his partner, O.L. Davis. Their client, Charles Pate,  signs the agreement. 

Pate is promising to pay his attorneys, O. L. Davis and Abraham Lincoln, $80 for value received when five suits against him in Vermilion Circuit Court “shall be finally decided in my favor and not before.”  Unfortunately for Pate’s attorneys, he lost all five cases, so Lincoln and Davis were not paid for their work.

As Roger Billings wrote in the ALA Journal, “On the face, this would violate today’s ethics rule prohibiting an agreement contingent on a satisfactory criminal case outcome.  Of course, that rule did not exist when Lincoln practiced.”

*Pictured in Pratt, PERSONAL FINANCES OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN; Mentioned in both PAPERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN and JOURNAL OF THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN ASSOCIATION (Vol. 42, No. 1, Spring 2022, 41) and Listed in Miers, LINCOLN DAY BY DAY (Vol 11, 75).

Lincoln, Abraham. Autograph Document, signed in the third person.  Danville, Ills:  15 May 1852.  Oblong, 8vo.; 1p.; signed in the body “A. Lincoln”.  C(harles) L. Pate, as defendant in People v Pate & Pate, signs at the end. 

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