and I conducted was one in which we defended the Illinois Central Railroad in an action brought by McLean County, Illinois
, in August, 1853, to recover taxes alleged to be due the county from the road.
The Legislature had granted the road immunity from taxation, and this was a case intended to test the constitutionality of the law. The road sent a retainer fee of $250. In the lower court the case was decided in favor of the railroad.
An appeal to the Supreme Court followed, and there it was argued twice, and finally decided in our favor.
This last decision was rendered some time in 1855. Mr. Lincoln
soon went to Chicago
and presented our bill for legal services.
We only asked for $2,000 more.
The official to whom he was referred, -supposed to have been the superintendent George B. McClellan
who afterwards became the eminent general,--looking at the bill expressed great surprise.
“Why, sir,” he exclaimed, “this is as much as Daniel Webster himself would have charged.
We cannot allow such a claim.”
Stung by the rebuff, Lincoln
withdrew the bill, and started for home.
On the way he stopped at Bloomington
There he met Grant Goodrich
, Archibald Williams
, Norman B. Judd
, 0. H. Browning
, and other attorneys, who, on learning of his modest charge for such valuable services rendered the railroad, induced him to increase the demand to $5,000, and to bring suit for that sum. This was done at once.
On the trial six lawyers certified that the bill was reasonable, and judgment for that sum went by default.
The judgment was promptly paid.