Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A New Discovery

It happened again.

There was a box in a vault at the Department of Library and Archives in Frankfort, Kentucky. No one knew what was in the box. And then Ron Elliot opened it up.

It was a court document. An old, handwritten, three-page document, dated May 1853.

The handwriting looked familiar. Elliot scanned to the bottom of the document and found the signature, “A. Lincoln.”

“My hands were kind of shaking,” he confessed.

Researchers had no idea the document even existed. It seems as if the former Kentucky state historian acquired a box of Lincoln-related documents decades ago. After he passed away, the box was placed in the vault and simply forgotten about until Elliot “discovered” it last week.

The newly-discovered document refers to some debt-collection work Lincoln did for his father-in-law’s law firm in the 1850s. Apparently, the firm claimed Lincoln still owed them $472.54, but Lincoln disputed the claim.

Though I have not heard all of the details, Illinois State Historian Tom Schwartz has read the document. “This case upset Lincoln a great deal,” Schwartz said. “It questioned his integrity and honesty.”

More details are sure to follow.

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