Dear Sir

Yours of the 29th, written in behalf of Mr. John W. Widmer, is received. I am absent altogether too much to be a suitable instructor for a law student. When a man has reached the age that Mr. Widner has, and has already been doing for himself, my judgment is, that he reads the books for himself without an instructor. That is precisely the way I came to the law. Let Mr. Widner read Blackstone's Commentaries, Chitty's Pleadings's -- Greenleaf's Evidence, Story's Equity, and Story's Equity Pleading's, get a license, and go to the practice, and still keep reading. That is my judgment of the cheapest, quickest, and best way for Mr. Widner to make a lawyer of himself.

Yours truly
A. Lincoln

Letter to James T. Thornton
December 2, 1858

[It is worthy of note that Lincoln, himself, was responsible for the misspelling of Widmer’s name in the above letter. ed.]