Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 4.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

The Canal-Scrip Fraud [1]

[c. October 16, 1860]

It is now less than three weeks to the election. For months we have been trying to get an unequivocal declaration from democratic newspaper's and democratic candidates for the Legislature, whether it is, or is not their purpose, at the next session, to release Gov Matteson from the payment of the money obtained by him through the canal script-fraud. But we have tried in vain. There is nothing left for us, but an appeal to the tax-payers. We say to them ``it is your business.'' By your votes you can hold him to it, or you can release him.'' ``Every year a part of the price of all you sell, from beef-cattle down to butter and eggs, is wrung from you in gold, to replenish a State Treasury'' ``To a certain extent, this is indispensable; but it is for you to say whether it shall be thus wrung from you to be litterally stolen, and applied to establishing banks, and building palaces for nabobs.'' ``Will you attend to it?''

Several years ago, the Auditor sold certain state lands, receiving therefor, as the law required, certain internal improvement script. This script was deposited with the then Governor, not being cancelled, or destroyed. Recently it has been discovered that a portion of this script has found it's way out of the Governor's custody, to New-York, where it has been funded and State bonds issued for itPage  129 payable to Peter O Strang. Thus this script was once paid for with state lands, and then again with State bonds. But this is not the end. The bonds are brought to the Treasury here, and bought in with the gold of the tax-payers. One Lowe brings them and gets the gold for them. It turns out that the bonds are filled up in this Lowe's handwriting, and then transferred from Peter O Strang to Lowe, also in Lowe's handwriting. Who is Peter O. Strang, and how he got the script out of the Governor's custody, to treat it as his own, get State bonds for it, nobody seems to know. But this much is known. Matteson was Governor when the script may have gone from the executive custody, and Lowe was his agent at New-York, to fill up state bonds in rightful cases. Only a few days ago Lowe was in Springfield, and a suit was commenced against him for the money obtained from the State on the bonds. For a time the Sheriff could not find him; but at last he was found concealed in Matteson's house. And this too, after the Sheriff had been once turned away from the house, by Matteson himself.


[1]   ADf, DLC-RTL. The Illinois State Journal editorialized numerous times during the weeks prior to the election concerning the discovery of ``redeemed coupons and canal scrip, in large quantities, funded fraudulently'' (Journal, September 20, 1860). Although in July, 1859, a grand jury had failed to find a true bill against ex-Governor Joel A. Matteson in connection with the purported fraud, the discovery of further irregularities in September, 1860, was made a political issue by the Republican press. Perhaps the present manuscript was intended as an article for the Journal or another Republican organ. If so the editors have not been able to locate it in print. Quite likely Lincoln thought better of using it at all and merely filed it away. The date [Oct. 1854?] assigned to the document in the Lincoln Papers cannot be supported.