Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 2.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
Page  102

To William Martin [1]

Hon: Wm. Martin Springfield,
Dear Sir: March 6. 1851.

Yours of March --- with it's inclosures, was received yesterday. I agree with the New-York lawyer, that it is best not to amend the minutes. In my view, if there were no minutes---no entries in writing---of the calls, then we could prove by parol that the Directors required the payments, and procured the publication of notices of them in the papers. My difficulty was that the calls being entered of record, and that fact getting out in evidence, we could not proceed without producing the record. If I am right in this, it follows that if the records, when produced, are defective, the defects can be supplied by parol.

If any of my cases are brought [to] trial at the ensuing term, I shall need the minutes of the Commissioners, together with the witness to identify them as you suggest. I shall also want the printers' certificate, and if not too inconvenient, a living witness also, to prove the publication for the calls. The reason I say if, is, that another of my victims, J. M. Burkhardt, has ``caved in'' and paid his instalments---still another, Joseph Klein, probably will; and the remaining one, James A. Barret, [2] as I wrote you, is proposing terms. In addition to all this, I can not be ready unless the Secretary comes on with his books. If I find I shall need the proof from Alton I will write you again.

As to Barret, if the Board think they have the power, I rather think they would better accept his terms. Mr. Lyon [3] thinks the change of the location of road makes a serious question as to the release of stock-holders, and Barret is the only one I have heard of who is disposed to make the question. I think, Mr. Lyon's opinion notwithstanding, that the change will not work a release; but still it is better to get along peaceably if possible. I have not time now to review your declaration as you desire, but I have no doubt it is right, or at least as nearly right as I could make it, before I get some rubbing by an adversary in court.

Your despach is just here. On the question of the competency of a Stockholder to testify in these suits I send you 4 Watts & Serg: 393. This book is not here, & I find a reference to it in the [Septr.] Supl. + [2]* U.S. Dig: Vol. page 976, Sec. 405.

I also send you 7 Dana 99. This case is full and plump; and is, perhaps, the only reported case, exactly in point. There is no case against us. There are many deciding that a Stockholder is incompetent for the corporation; but they are all in cases where strangersPage  103 & not members of the corporation, were suing or being sued. Yours as ever A. LINCOLN

* Case is in the supplement, U.S. Dig. vol. 2 page 976, sec. 405 is not published monthly.

Annotation

[1]   ALS, IHi.

[2]   James A. Barret, a leading citizen and agriculturist of Springfield, whose name appears in contemporary sources with either one or two t's.

[3]   Efforts to identify Lyon have been unsuccessful.