Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 1.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

Remarks in U. S. House of Representatives
Concerning Salary of Judge of Western District in Virginia [1]

June 28, 1848

Mr. LINCOLN said, he felt unwilling to be either unjust or ungenerous, and he wanted to understand the real case of this judicial officer. The gentleman from Virginia [2] had stated that he had to hold eleven courts. Now, everybody knew that it was not the habit of the district judges of the United States in other States to hold anything like that number of courts; and he therefore took it for granted that this must happen under a peculiar law, which required that large number of courts to be holden every year; and these laws, he further supposed, were passed at the request of the people of that judicial district. It came, then, to this: that the people in the western district of Virginia had got eleven courts to be held among them in one year, for their own accommodation; and being thus better accommodated than their neighbors elsewhere, they wanted their judge to be a little better paid. In Illinois, there had been, until the present season, but one district court held in the year. There were now to be two. Could it be that the western district of Virginia furnished more business for a judge than the whole State of Illinois?

Annotation

[1]   Congressional Globe, Thirtieth Congress, First Session, p. 878.

[2]   Richard K. Meade had moved passage of HR bill No. 290, ``to change the times for holding the district courts of the United States in the Western District of Virginia, and for other purposes,'' and had spoken in support of the section in the bill which increased the judge's salary from $1,600 to $2,500, emphasizingPage  495

chiefly the excessive labor and travel involved. Other members objected to the salary increase, pointing out that federal judges elsewhere in similar circumstances drew less salary. The salary increase was stricken out by a vote of 118 to 39, Lincoln voting with the majority, and the bill was read a third time and passed.