Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 3.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
October 22, 1858

At Carthage, Hancock County, Oct. 22, Mr. Lincoln discussed the following topics, not included in any of the joint debates with Judge Douglas:

On the 4th of October, at Woodford County, I learned that Judge Douglas had been imputing to me and my friends a purpose to release the Central Railroad Company from paying into the State Treasury the seven per cent, upon their gross earnings, which, by law, they are now bound to do. I learn he repeated the same imputation at Pekin, Oquawka, Monmouth and this place, though he hasPage  331 never mentioned it at any of our joint meetings, or elsewhere in my presence. I mention it now to correct any false impression that may have been made. I understand the Judge states, among other things, that I once received a fee of $5,000 from that Company. My partner and I did receive such fee under the following circumstances: By their charter, the Company are bound to make periodical payments into the State Treasury, in exemption of all other taxes. This exempts them from county and city taxes. The Legislature intended, as I understand, in consideration of the large land grant, to make the Company pay about as much as they could bear; and to make them pay it into the State Treasury, so that the whole people could share the benefit, instead of paying any to the counties through which the road passes, to the exclusion of those through which it does not pass. This was a fair way of dealing with the whole people, as was thought. The county of McLean, one of the counties through which the road passes, claimed that the exemption was unconstitutional, and that the Company was bound to pay county taxes on their property within the limits of the county; and the parties went to Court to try the question. The Railroad Company employed me as one of their lawyers in the case, the county having declined to employ me. I was not upon a salary, and no agreement was made as to the amount of fee. The Railroad Company finally gained the case. The decision, I thought, and still think, was worth half a million dollars to them. I wanted them to pay me $5,000, and they wanted to pay me about $500. I sued them and got the $5,000. This is the whole truth about the fee; and what tendency it has to prove that I received any of the people's money, or that I am on very cozy terms with the Railroad Company, I do not comprehend.

It is a matter of interest to you that the Company shall not be released from their obligations to pay money into the State Treasury. Every dollar they so pay relieves the whole people of just so much in the way of taxation. I am a candidate for no office wherein I could release them, if elected. The State Legislature alone can release them. Therefore, all you need to do is to know your candidates for the Legislature, how they will vote on the question of release, if elected. I doubt not every candidate who is a friend of mine is ready to show his hand; and perhaps it would be well to have Judge Douglas' friends show their hands also. See to your members of the Legislature, and you are beyond the power of all others as to releasing the Central Railroad from its obligations. This is your perfect security.

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