Letter from Abraham Lincoln to John Johnston (1851)

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Dear Brother

Your letter of the 22nd. is just received. Your proposal about selling the East forty acres of land is all that I want or could claim for myself; but I am not satisfied with it on Mother’s account. I want her to have her living, and I feel that it is my duty, to some extent, to see that she is not wronged. She had a right of Dower (that is, that use of one third for life) in the other two forties; but, it seems, she has already let you take that, hook and line. She now has the use of the whole of the East forty, as long as she lives; and if it be sold, of course, she is intitled to the interest on all the money it brings, as long as she lives; but you propose to sell if for three hundred dollars, take one hundred away with you, and leave her two hundred, at 8 per cent, making her the enormous sum of 16 dollars a year. Now, if you are satisfied with treating her in that way, I am not. It is true, that you are to have that forty for two hundred dollars, at Mother’s death; but you are not to have it before. I am confident that land can be made to produce for Mother, at least $30 a year, and I can not, to oblige any living person, consent that she shall be put on an allowance of sixteen dollars a year. Yours &c

A. Lincoln


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