The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 5 by Abraham Lincoln
A Legal Opinion by Abraham Lincoln.
The 11th Section of the Act of Congress, approved Feb. 11, 1805, prescribing rules for the subdivision of sections of land within the United States system of surveys, standing unrepealed, in my opinion, is binding on the respective purchasers of different parts of the same section, and furnishes the true rule for surveyors in establishing lines between them. That law, being in force at the time each became a purchaser, becomes a condition of the purchase.
And, by that law, I think the true rule for dividing into quarters any interior section or sections, which is not fractional, is to run straight lines through the section from the opposite quarter section corners, fixing the point where such straight lines cross, or intersect each other, as the middle or centre of the section.
Nearly, perhaps quite, all the original surveys are to some extent erroneous, and in some of the sections, greatly so. In each of the latter, it is obvious that a more equitable mode of division than the above might be adopted; but as error is infinitely various perhaps no better single rules can be prescribed.
At all events I think the above has been prescribed by the competent authority.
SPRINGFIELD, Jan. 6, 1859.