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Intern discovers Lincoln documents


David Spriegel discovered these previously unknown Abraham Lincoln documents second week his summer internship.

David Spriegel discovered these previously unknown Abraham Lincoln documents in the second week of his summer internship.

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Updated: October 16, 2011 12:17AM



Two weeks into his summer internship, David Spriegel made the kind of discovery some researchers spend years attempting to make.

He turned up two previously unknown documents written in 1844 by then-up-and-coming lawyer Abraham Lincoln in Springfield.

“I have to say that this discovery has piqued my interest in Lincoln as an individual and in his early career,” said Spriegel, who will is interning at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield this summer. “This will give me new purpose to explore the life of a great man.”

Spriegel was organizing a four-inch tall stack of documents in the library’s manuscript’s department when he made the discovery. The intern had noticed the previously overlooked small inscription on the documents that read: “The above memorandum is in the inscription of Abraham Lincoln. — M. Hay”

Milton Hay had clerked in the Stuart and Lincoln Law Office as a young man and would have recognized Lincoln’s script.

The handwritten memos list parcels of land being bought and sold in Springfield as part of a legal case Lincoln, then 35, was working on at the time.

“If he had not been elected president he could have potentially remained a Springfield attorney for the rest of his life,” Spriegel said. “One of our missions is to preserve the history and culture of the state of Illinois, and this is a part of it.”

The documents will join 1,580 other original Abraham Lincoln manuscripts at the museum.

The discovery comes as something of an early birthday for Spriegel, who will turn 22 in a couple weeks. The history major will soon be in his last year at St. Mary’s University in Minnesota and later intends to attain a master’s degree in library science.



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