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522. Henry C. Whitney to William H. Herndon.

Chicago August 29th 1887.

Friend Herndon —

Replying to Mr Weiks note recd yesterday I may say that Lew Wallace is still in the East — I dont just Know where — and that a letter will not reach him at home at present.

I may likewise say that Harpers Bros do not have the reputation of being very liberal with authors: — in fact, to not put too fine a point on it, they are mean and as you have the whole world before you where to choose I think you had better canvass the subject somewhat before you decide — because a publisher is quite [as] important as the author. Among publishers, I may mention Charles L. Webster of New York and New Haven who publish Mark Twains works and James R. Osgood & Co. of Boston. Had I Known of this one month since I could have been quite serviceable to you inasmuch as I was at Boston and New York with plenty of leisure. I doubt [whether?] Harpers are what you want, after all.

you and I could only hav a common object [how]ever with regard to our great friend who [ca]n no longer speak for himself I hope you will not deem it essential to your purpose [to] go behind the marriage certificate which Hay & Nicolay found shewing that Thomas Lincon & Nancy Hanks were man and [wife]. That makes it presumptive in law [that] Thom Lincoln was Abraham Lincolns father and Lincoln has always said so in public; and of course wants [it to] go so in history. I therefore think that his friends ought not to try to cast any suspicion on it. It is one thing for you and I to talk among ourselves [&] another thing to proclaim to the world even an authentic fact if it was so distasteful to Lincoln or to his friends & I as one friend should very much dislik[e] to see any doubt cast upon Lincolns legitimacy for the public eye; and I hav[e] no doubt his friends generally would do so you are aware what a great deal of trouble Davis Swett & Fell had to induce Hill Lamon to suppress or change one Chapter [of ] his book. That affords an example of how Lincolns average friends regard the matter I will tonight write you quite a chapter about Lincoln & his habits on the Circuit and life on the Circuit generally & Enclose in this. I am sorry accurate picture of him is lost. I will get another as soon as I can & forward. When and where shall I meet you to read you my Lecture?

Your friend
H C Whitney

This is Swetts description of Lincoln as a lawyer.

As he Entered the Trial, where most lawyers object, he would say he "reckoned" it would be fair to let this in or that and sometimes, where his adversary could not quite prove what Lincoln Knew to be the truth he would say he "reckoned" it would be fair to admit the truth to be so & so When he did object to the Court after


it heard his objection answered he would [then] say "Well I reckon I must be wrong. Now about the time he had practised this 3/4 through the case if his adversary didnt understand him he would wake up in a few minutes finding that he had [secured] the Greeks too late and wake up to find himself beat. He was wise as a serpent in the trial of a cause but I have got too many scars from his blows to certify that he was harmless as a dove. When the whole thing is unravelled, the adversary begins to see that what he was so blanly giving away was simply what he couldnt get & Keep. By giving away 6 points and carrying the 7th he carried his case and the whole case hanging on the 7th he traded away every thing which would give him the least and in carrying that. Any man who took Lincoln for a simple minded man would very soon wake [up] with his back in a ditch

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3398 (letter), Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3399 (Swett's description)



1. Written by Whitney on the back of the enclosed description (also in Whitney's hand) that follows.