Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Uncollected Letters of Abraham Lincoln © 1917

SPRINGFIELD, Nov. 26, 1858.

Dr. B. C. Lundy:

My dear Sir: Your kind letter with enclosure is received, and for which I thank you. It being my own judgement that the fight must go on, it affords me great pleasure to learn that our friends are nowhere dispirited.

There will be another “blow up” in the democracy. Douglas managed to be supported both as the best instrument to break down, and to up-hold the slave power. No ingenuity can keep this deception — this double position — up a great while.

Yours very truly,


SPRINGFIELD June 23, 1858.

John L. Scripps, Esq. [1]

My dear Sir: Your kind note of yesterday is duly received. I am much flattered by the estimate you place on my late speech; and yet I am much mortified that any part of it should be construed so differently from any thing intended by me. The language, “place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in course of ultimate extinction,” I used deliberately, not dreaming then, nor believing now, that it asserts or intimates any power or purpose, to interfere with slavery in the states where it exists. But to not cavil about language, I declare that whether the clause used by me will bear such construction or not, I never so intended it. I have declared a thousand times, and now repeat that, in my opinion, neither the General Government, nor any other power outside of the slave states, can constitutionally or rightfully interfere with slaves or slavery where it already exists. I believe that whenever the effort to spread slavery into the new territories, by whatever means, and into the free states themselves, by Supreme Court decisions, shall be fairly headed off, the institution will then be in course of ultimate extinction; and by the language used I meant only this.

I do not intend this for publication; but still you may show it to any one you think fit. I think I shall, as you suggest, take some early occasion to publicly repeat the declaration I have already so often made as before stated.

Yours very truly,


[1] A Chicago journalist, author of the first biography of Lincoln, New York Tribune Tracts, No. 6 (1860).

SPRINGFIELD, June 7, 1856

Hon. Lyman Trumbull

My dear Sir: The news of Buchanan’s nomination came yesterday; and a good many Whigs, of conservative feelings, and slight pro-slavery proclivities, withal, are inclining to go for him, and will do it, unless the Anti-Nebraska nomination shall be such as to divert them. The man to effect that object is Judge McLean; and his nomination would save every Whig, except such as have already gone over hook and line, as Singleton, Morrison, Constable, & others. J. T. Stuart, Anthony Thornton, James M. Davis (the old settler) and others like their, will heartily go for McLean, but will every one go for Buchanan, as against Chase, Banks, Seward, Blair or Fremont? I think they would stand Blair or Frimont for Vice-President —but not more.

Now there is a grave question to be considered. Nine tenths of the Anti-Nebraska votes have to come from old Whigs. In setting stakes, is it safe to totally disregard them? Can we possibly win, if we do so? So far they have been disregarded. I need not point out the instances.

I think I may trust you to believe I do not say this on my own personal account. I am in, and shall go for any one nominated unless he be “platformed” expressly, or impliedly, on some ground which I may think wrong. Since the nomination of Bissell we are in good trim in Illinois, save at the point I have indicated. If we can save pretty nearly all the Whigs, we shall elect him, I think, by a very large majority.

I address this to you, because your influence in the Anti-Nebraska nomination will be greater than that of any other Illinoian.

Let this be confidential,

Yours very truly                                                          A. LINCOLN.

SPRINGFIELD, August 11, 1855.

Mr. Owen Lovejoy,

My dear Sir: Yours of the 7th. was received the day before yesterday. Not even you are more anxious to prevent the extension of slavery than I. And yet the political atmosphere is such, just now, that I fear to do anything, lest I do wrong. Know Nothingism has not yet entirely tumbled to pieces. Nay, it is even a little encouraged by the late elections in Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama. Until we can get the elements of this organization there is not sufficient material to successfully combat the Nebraska democracy with. We cannot get them so long as they cling to a hope of success under their own organization; and I fear an open push by us now may offend them and tend to prevent our ever getting them. About us here, they are mostly my old political and personal friends, and I have hoped this organization would die out without the painful necessity of my taking an open stand against them. Of their principles I think little better than I do of those of the slavery extensionists. Indeed I do not perceive how any one professing to be sensitive to the wrongs of the negro, can join in a league to degrade a class of white men. I have no objection to “fuse” with any body provided I can fuse on grounds which I think right. And I believe the opponents of slavery extension could now do this if it were not for the K.N.ism. In many speeches last summer I advised those who did me the honor of a hearing to “stand with” any body who stands right, and I am still quite willing to follow my own advice. I lately saw in the Quincy Whig the report of a preamble and resolution made by Mr. Williams, as chairman of a committee, to a public meeting and adopted by the meeting. I saw them but once, and have them not now at command, but so far as I can remember them they occupy the ground I should be willing to “fuse” upon. As to my personal movements this summer and fall, I am quite busy trying to pick up my lost crumbs of last year. I shall be here till September; then with Circuit till the 20th, then to Cincinnati awhile, after a Patent Right case, and back to the Circuit to the end of November. I can be seen here any time this month and at Bloomington at any time from the 10th. to the 17th. of September. As to an extra session of the Legislature, I should know no better how to bring that about than to lift myself over a fence by the straps of my boots.

Yours truly,                                         A. LINCOLN.