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Monday, May 25, 1857.+-

Springfield, IL.

Lincoln writes to St. Louis attorneys Newton Deming Strong and George P. Strong regarding the status of the appeal case of Eads & Nelson v. Ohio & Mississippi RR. Lincoln and the Strongs represent the railroad which lost an earlier suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Missouri. That court ruled in favor of Eads & Nelson, a company that did salvage work for the railroad after sixty of the railroad's cars sank in the Ohio River during transport between Louisville, Kentucky, and St. Louis, Missouri. The railroad and the salvage company differ on the amount of compensation that Eads & Nelson should receive for salvaging fifty-two of the sixty cars. Although they won the case in Missouri, Eads & Nelson are compelled to take the railroad to court in Illinois, the state in which the railroad had placed the cars. Eads & Nelson also win the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. Lincoln writes, "The admiralty case now stands on appeal to the circuit court and consequently, can only be tried by Judge [John] McLean; and I understand he will remain here only one week, commencing that first Monday of June." Lincoln advises the Strongs to meet with the plaintiffs' St. Louis attorney "and make an arrangement with him as to a day of taking up the case." Before the defendants appealed the case, Lincoln had argued that the federal court in Illinois did not have jurisdiction because the federal court in Missouri had already tried the case and ruled for Eads & Nelson. Lincoln refers to the federal courts and jurisdiction, and takes the opportunity to mock the U.S. Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision: "There is no longer any difficult question of jurisdiction in the Federal courts; they have jurisdiction in all possible cases except such as might redound to the benefit of a 'nigger' in some way. Seriously, I wish you to prepare, on the question jurisdiction as well as you can; for I fear the later decisions are against us." Abraham Lincoln to Newton Deming Strong and George P. Strong, 25 May 1857, IHi, Springfield, IL; U.S. District Court transcript, 13 September 1855, Eads & Nelson v. Ohio & Mississippi RR, Record Group 21, case file 1; Judgment, 1 July 1856, Eads & Nelson v. Ohio & Mississippi RR, General Record, Vol. 1, 50, U.S. District Court Southern District of Illinois; Answer, 15 March 1856, Eads & Nelson v. Ohio & Mississippi RR, Record Group 21, case file 1, all in National Archives and Records Administration, Great Lakes Region, Chicago, IL.