• William Butler, Lincoln's Second In A Near Duel, And Friend Signs Springfield, IL Legal Document As Clerk

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    WILLIAM BUTLER (1797-1876) was born in Adair County, KY. During the War of 1812, he served as a special messenger for the governor of Kentucky carrying dispatches to Gen. William Henry Harrison in the field.  He settled in Sangamon County and was appointed Clerk of the Circuit Court by Judge Stephen T. Logan in 1836. When Abraham Lincoln arrived in Springfield in 1837 without funds, Joshua Speed gave him housing above his store. He was also frequently offered meals in the Butler home. Both Speed and Butler became lifelong friends of Lincoln.

    In October 1842, as Lincoln’s second, Butler accepted James Shields’ famous challenge to Lincoln to a duel. The actual duel didn’t take place as Shield’s second, Gen. Whiteside, held that it was illegal. 

    After becoming President, Lincoln had a number of contacts with Butler. On August 3, 1861, Lincoln appointed Speed Butler, William’s son, as Commissary of Subsistence in Gen. Pope’s Brigade.  On September 1, 1861, Speed Butler became a major in the 5th Illinois Cavalry.  Lincoln wrote of Speed that he was “one of our wisest and most reliable men at Springfield.”

    William Butler visited Lincoln at the White House on matters relating to accounts due the Illinois Central Railroad by the government. On July 21, 1863, Butler and a group of businessmen visited Lincoln seeking permission to do legitimate trade in the South within “our lines.” Lincoln gave Butler a note introducing the group to Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase.

    Partly-printed ADS, 8 x 12, Springfield, IL 1839 Feb. 9, being a summons to call William Baker and William Norred to appear before the Circuit Court “to answer A Bill of Chancery filed against them by Ephraim Darling.” On the verso is an ANS of William Lavery, Deputy Sheriff, indicating that the summons was executed, plus the sheriff’s statement for services.

    Provenance Christies.

    Light toning, two small fold tears reinforced with archival tape.

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