481. George B. Balch (Statement for Jesse W. Weik).
[Janesville, Ill., 1885?]
first attorneys fee, and how
he used the money.
When Abraham Lincoln was granted license to plead law in the courts of Illinois he put the precious document in his pocket and immediately set out to visit his father who lived in Pleasant Grove, Coles County.
Just at that time James Gill, a man of considerable wealth who lived near Thomas Lincoln brought suit against another man who had allowed his stock to destroy the growing crops of the plaintiff.
The suit was for trespass, and before a justice of the peace. Mr Gill learning that the young attorney was in the neighborhood secured his services.
Mr Lincoln conducted the case to the entire satisfaction of his client, and secured a judgment for ten dollars and cost against the defendent. As soon as the case was decided Mr Gill took out his pocket book and taking a ten dollar bill therefrom presented it to Mr Lincoln saying "here Abe is your fee." Lincoln replyed "No Mr Gill, this is my first case, and besides you are a neighbor of my father and I had no thought of charging you anything." Mr Gill insisted and Mr Lincoln continued to to refuse, saying that the amount was too great for the service rendered. Gill was a proud-spirited impulsive man, and Lincoln, seeing that resistance was useless, addressed him as follows: "Well Mr Gill as you insist upon it I will take the money and give it to father, for he is poor and needs it." So saying he took the bill, and turning to his father, who was present, gave it to him.
This is the beginning of the professional career of a man whose name is known and whose praise is sung wherever Liberty has found a home.
This incident was related to the writer by Mr Gill a short time before he died. He was one of the pioneers of Eastern Illinois, and was a man of undoubted veracity. He died in 1884 at the age of 87 years.
Geo. B. Balch,
Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 4581 — 83