Lot 26 View Catalog
Historic Abraham Lincoln Signed Personal Check Made Out To Lincoln’s Law Partner William Henry Herndon
ABRAHAM LINCOLN (February 12, 1809 - April 15, 1865). 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April of 1865.
June 13, 1859-Dated, Partially-Printed Document, Check Signed, “A Lincoln” at Springfield (Illinois), measuring 7.5” x 3” with Blue Printed text and vignette design, two bank cut cancels, Choice Very Fine. This is an original bank check, as issued by the “Springfield Marine & Fire Insurance Company.” It is made out in brown ink, by Lincoln’s hand, in the amount of Seven (dollars and) 25 cents “IN CURRENT BANK NOTES.” being written to “W. H. Herndon,” who at the time was Abraham Lincoln’s law partner. A fine vertical tear near center has been archivally repaired, with conservation performed with Japanese tissue to stabilize the paper, to the blank verso only. (The detailed professional conservation report is included with item.)
This check is made out to Lincoln’s famous law partner William Henry Herndon. Additional information about him on our auction website: www.EarlyAmerican.com. This great rarity is in surprisingly clean and lightly circulated condition overall. Towards the conclusion of the payees name the pen began to lighten from lacking ink. “A. Lincoln” is very sharply written and clearly readable. This Check is attractive to the eye, being printed in a colorful blue, all of the text and manuscript portions clear and fully readable upon the white wove period paper. The left margin includes a nice oval vignette showing a Steaming Paddlewheel Ship and two other Sailing Ships, within an ornate, decorative box, with a tiny spindle hole, as made, towards the edge. Any Check by Abraham Lincoln is highly collected and prized as an important rarity. This example, being made directly from Lincoln to his law partner Herndon, is a true prize for any Autograph, Presidential or Abraham Lincoln collection.
William Henry Herndon (1818-1891) was born in Greensburg, Kentucky, Herndon and his family moved to Illinois in 1820, and they settled in Springfield when he was five. Herndon attended Illinois College from 1836-1837. In 1840 he married Mary J. Maxey with whom he had six children. Mary Herndon died on August 18, 1860, and the following summer Herndon married Anna Miles with whom he had two more children.
Following college, he returned to Springfield, where he clerked until 1841, when he went into law practice with Lincoln. Both men were members of the Whig Party and joined the fledgling Republican Party after the dissolution of the Whigs. In 1858, Herndon conducted opposition research in the Illinois State Library to be used against Stephen A. Douglas in the 1860 Presidential race.
Herndon was a much stauncher opponent of Slavery than Lincoln and claimed that he helped change Lincoln's views on the subject. He felt that Lincoln acted too slowly against the issue following his election as President. Herndon felt that the only way to rid the country of slavery was "through bloody revolution."
Herndon claimed that through the whole of his partnership and friendship with Lincoln he was never invited to Lincoln's home due to his contentious relationship with Mary Todd Lincoln. He also admitted that his frustration with Lincoln's overly permissive parenting of his two younger sons, Willie and Tad, who he recalled as undisciplined and disruptive brats in the law offices caused some harsh words during their partnership.
His final meeting with Lincoln occurred in 1862 when he visited Washington, D.C., hoping to secure a presidential appointment as postmaster for the brother of his second wife. Lincoln received him amicably but he was not invited into the family's private quarters in the White House due to the enmity of Mary Lincoln.