Abraham Lincoln.

A Lincoln correspondence [twenty-two letters of historical interest here published for the first time] online

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would both please, and help our friends
there, if you could be with them in the
last days of the fight — Having been
there, I know they are proud of you as a
son of their own soil, and would be moved
to greater exertion by your presence
among them —

"Can you not go? Telegraph them, and
go right along — The fiendish attempt
now being made upon Connecticut, must
not be allowed to succeed,
"Yours as ever

"A. Lincoln"

Republican and was Secretary of the Senate in

3 Mark W. Delahay, later United States District Judge.

•* After his speech at the Cooper Institute, February 27,
i860, Lincoln spent several days in Connecticut.



"Springfield, Ills. April 7, i860
"Hon: L. Trumbull

"My dear Sir: Reaching home from
Chicago, where I have been engaged two
weeks in the trial of a lawsuit, I found
your letter of March 26th.

"Of course you can do no better for
Delahay than you promise — I am trying
to keep out of the contest among our
friends for the Gubernatorial nomination ;
but from what I hear, the result is in con-
siderable doubt —

"We have just had a clear party vic-
tory in our City election ; and our friends
are more encouraged, and our enemies
more cowed by it, than by anything since
the organrzation of the Republican party
— Last year we carried the city; but we
did it, not by our own strength, but by an
open feud among our enemies — This
year their feud was healed ; and we beat
them fairly by main strength —

"I can scarcely give an opinion as to
what effect a nomination of Judge Mc-
Lean, by the Union Convention,^ would
have — I do not believe he would accept
it; and if he did, that fact alone, I think,
would shut him out of the Chicago Con-
vention — If he were ten years younger
he would be our best candidate —
"Yours as ever

"J. Lincoln"

Washington April 24, 1860.

Hon. a, Lincoln,

My Dear Sir, I am going to write you can-
didly & frankly my impressions in regard to
the Presidency, for such I know is the way
you would desire me to speak, & I shall hope
in return to be put fully in possession of your
views — First in regard to yourself —

My impression is as between you & Gov-
Seward, if the contest should assume that
shape, that he would most likely succeed — I
will not go into calculation to show this, but
I have talked it over with friends here & that
seems to be the impression even of those
who do not want Seward nominated — When
urging your claims, I am almost always met
with the saying — " if you are going to nom-
inate a man of that stamp why not take
Seward ? ' ' There seems to be a disposition in
the public-mind to associate you together,
from the fact, I suppose, that you have both

given expression to a similar sentiment in re-
gard to the ultimate extinction of slavery —

It matters not whether there is any founda-
tion for this or not, I am not arguing
the matter, but simply stating what others
say —

Second — Can Seward be elected if nom-
inated ? The impression here is among all
except his warm friends that he can not — The
delegations from Conn. & R. I. say he would
lose both States, & so far as I know those
from N. J., Pa., except Cameron, & Indiana
express the same opinion in regard to their
States, & I must confess the letters I am
daily receiving from Central & South 111.
lead me to doubt if he could carry our

We shall certainly run a great risk if he is
the nominee — Under such circumstances it
seems to me clear that he should not be nom-
inated —

3 — The next question is can his nomina-
tion be prevented & if so how — The im-
pression here is that Judge McLean is
probably the only man who could succeed
as against Seward. After Cameron he seems
to be the choice of Pa. & I suppose Ohio
would support him after Chase — Would our
State go for him in the convention after you,
& if nominated could he carry 111. ? There
seems to be a good deal of feeling for Bates
in Central & South Illinois ; would the same
men go for McLean if nominated ? Of
course you know McLean's age, infirmities
& the objections which would be raised to
him —

Bates, I do not think could get the nomi-
nation as against Seward — The Germans
are opposed to him — Neither Pa., N.J. or
Ohio could be carried for him entire as against
Seward, nor do I suppose 111. could, nor
do I mean to say that these States would cer-
tainly go for McLean in such a contingency,
but am giving impressions here —

Now I wish you to understand that I am
for you first & foremost, want our State to
send not only delegates instructed in your
favor, but your friends who will stand by &
nominate you if possible, never faltering un-
less you yourself shall so advise ; but we are
engaged in a great contest which ought not
to be put to hazard from personal considera-
tions in any quarter —

Of course Mr. McLean can only be taken
up as a compromise Candidate — He would

1 Held on May 9 and 10, i860, nominated John Bell for the Presidency on the second ballot.
Judge McLean received 21 votes on the first ballot.



have no votes to start with — From what I
have written you will readily see, that I am
inclined to favor this McLean movement,
which is daily gaining strength & even now
looks formidable ; but I want to know your
views — I have talked with my Republican
colleagues, & they all agree that we may ul-
timately have to take McLean & that it would
be very hazardous to take Seward.

My impression is that [if] McLean were
nominated [he] would be elected — Pa. some
of the members here say, would be sure for
him by Fifty thousand, & carrying that State
would doubtless elect him — I think there are
half a dozen men whom we could elect, if
they were nominated, but I do not see how
their nomination is to be brought about.

[Not signed, but in Lyman
Trumbull's autograph.]

"Springfield, April 2Q, i860
"Hon: L. Trumbull:

"My dear Sir: Yours of the 24th was
duly received ; and I have postponed
answering it, hoping by the result at
Charleston, to know who is to lead our
adversaries, before writing — But Charles-
ton hangs fire, and I wait no longer ^ —

"As you request, I will be entirely frank
— The taste is in my mouth a little ; and
this, no doubt, disqualifies me, to some ex-
tent, to form correct opinions. You may
confidently rely, however, that by no
advice or consent of mine, shall my pre-
tentions be pressed to the point of endan-
gering our common cause —

"Now, as to my opinions about the
chances of others in Illinois — I think nei-
ther Seward ^ nor Bates ^ can carry Illinois
if Douglas shall be on the track; and that
either of them can, if he shall not be — I
rather think McLean could carry it with
D. on or off — in other words, I think
McLean is stronger in Illinois, taking all
sections of it, than either S. or B ; and I
think S. the weakest of the three. I hear no
objection to Mr. McLean, except his age* ;
but that objection seems to occur to every
one; and it is possible it might leave him
no stronger than the others — By the way,

1 The National Democratic Convention met at Charles-
ton, April 23, i860, and adjourned May 3 to meet at
Baltimore, June 18, having made no nominations. A
large number of the delegates from the Southern States,
having previously withdrawn, organized a convention that
adjourned to meet at Richmond on June 1 1 .

if we should nominate him, how would
we save to ourselves the chance of filling
his vacancy in the Court? Have him hold
on up to the moment of his inauguration?
Would that course be no draw-back upon
us in the canvass?

"Recurring to Illinois, we want some-
thing here quite as much as, and which is
harder to get than, the electoral vote — the
Legislature — And it is exactly in this
point that Seward's nomination would be
hard upon us. Suppose he should gain us
a thousand votes in Winnebago, it would
not compensate for the loss of fifty in Ed-

"A word now for your own special
benefit — You better write no letters
which can possibly be distorted into oppo-
sition, or quasi opposition to me — There
are men on the constant watch for such
things out of which to prejudice my pe-
culiar friends against you —

"While I have no more suspicion of
you than I have of my best friend living, I
am kept in a constant struggle against
suggestions of this sort — I have hesitated
some to write this paragraph, lest you
should suspect I do It for my own benefit,
and not for yours ; but on reflection I con-
clude you win not suspect me —

"Let no eye but your own see this — not
that there Is anything wrong, or even un-
generous, in it; but it would be miscon-
strued —

"Your friend as ever

"A. Lincoln"


"Springfield, May I, i860
"Hon: L. Trumbull

"Dear Sir: In my last letter to you I
believe I said I thought Mr. Seward
would be weaker In Illinois than Mr.
Bates— I write this to qualify the opin-
ion so far as to say I think S. weaker than
B. In our close Legislative districts; but
probably not weaker taking the whole
State over —

"We now understand that Douglas

2 William Heniy Seward, Senator from New York,
Lincoln's strongest opponent for the Presidential nomina-
tion, and later his Secretary of State.

3 Edward Bates of Missouri, appointed Attorney-Gen-
eral by Lincoln.

* Judge McLean was then in his seventy-sixth year.



will be nominated to-day by what is left
of the Charleston Convention —

"All parties here dislike it— Republi-
cans and Danites,^ that he should be nom-
inated at all; and Doug. Dem's that he
should not be nominated by an undivided
Convention —

"Yours as ever

"A. Lincoln"

"Springfield, May 26, i860
"Hon: L. Trumbull:

''My dear Sir: I have received three
letters from you since the nomination,- for
all which I sincerely thank you — As you
say, if we can not get our State up now, I
do not see when we can —

"The nominations start well here, and
everywhere else, so far as I have heard —
We may have a back-set yet — Give my
respects to the Republican Senators; and
especially to Mr. Hamlin, Mr. Seward,
Gen. Cameron, and Mr. Wade — Also to
your good wife —

"Write again ; and do not write so
short letters as I do —

"Your friend, as ever

"J. Lincoln"

"Springfield, Ills. May 31, i860
"Hon. L. Trumbull

"My dear Sir: Yours of the 28th, in-
closing that which I have carefully read,
and now return, is received — Please say
to Mr. Hamlin that my letter of accep-
tance is already written and forwarded to
Mr. Ashmun,^ at Springfield, Mass; that
I would send him, Mr. Hamlin, a copy,
only that Mr. Ashmun, when here, sought
and obtained a promise from me that I
would furnish a copy to no one ; that the
letter is very short, and, I think, conflicts
with none of Mr. Morey's suggestions,
except that it may be published by Mr.
Ashmun before the Baltimore Conven-
tion. Perhaps it would be best for Mr.
Hamlin and yourself not to communicate
the fact that the letter of acceptance is al-
ready written — I am glad to learn the

1 Danites, a secret association of Mormons pledged
to obey the dictates of their church ; the name was popu-
larly applied in Illinois to the faction of Administration
Democrats who opposed Douglas.

2 Lincoln was nominated for President at Chicago, May
18, i860, and Hannibal Hamlin of Maine for Vice-

Philadelphia meeting had force enough to
not be spoiled by the storm — I look with
great interest for your letters now.
"Your friend as ever,

"A. Lincoln"

"Springfield, Ills. June 5, i860
"Hon. L. Trumbull

"My dear Sir: Yours of May 31, in-
closing Judge Read's letter,* is received —

"I see by the papers this morning, that
Mr. Fillmore ^ refuses to go with us.
What do the New-Yorkers at Washing-
ton think of this? Gov. Reeder was here
last evening direc^t from Pennsylvania —
He is entirely confident of that State,
and of the general result — I do not re-
member to have heard Gen. Cameron's
opinion of Penn — Weed ^ was here, and
saw me ; but he showed no signs whatever
of the intriguer — He asked for nothing;
and said N. Y. is safe, without condition.

"Remembering that Peter denied his
Lord with an oath, after most solemnly
protesting that he never would, I will not
swear I will make no committals; but I
do think I will not —

"Write me often — I look with great
interest for your letters now.
"Yours as ever,

"A. Lincoln"

The following autographic document
begins with a memorandum in Ljman
Trumbull's handwriting, which we itali-
cize to distinguish it from the remainder,
which is in Lincoln's handwriting:

"Furnished by Mr. Lincoln t^ copied into
my remarks to be made at the celebra-
tion at Springfield, III. Nov. 20, i860"

"I have labored in, and for, the Republi-
can organization w^ith entire confidence
that whenever it shall be in power, each
and all of the States will be left in as com-
plete control of their own affairs respec-
tively, and at as perfect liberty to choose,
and employ, their own means of protect-
ing property, and preserving peace and

3 George Ashmun of Massachusetts, Chairman of the
Republican National Convention.

* Judge Read of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

5 Millard Fillmore the former President. Candidate
for the Presidency in 1856 against Buchanan and Fre-

6 Thurlow Weed, the New York journalist and poli-
tician, the stanch friend and supporter of Seward.



order within their respective limits, as
they have ever been under any administra-
tion — Those who have voted for Mr.
Lincoln, have expected, and still expect
this; and they would not have voted for
him had they expected otherwise— I re-
gard it as extremely fortunate for the
peace of the whole country, that this
point, upon which the Republicans have
been so long, and so persistently misrep-
resented, is now to be brought to a practi-
cal test, and placed beyond the possibility
of doubt — Disunionists per se, are now
in hot haste to get out of the Union, pre-
cisely because they perceive they can not,
much longer, maintain apprehension
among the Southern people that their
homes, and firesides, and lives, are to be
endangered by the action of the Federal
Government— With such 'Now, or
never is the maxim —

"I am rather glad of this military prep-
aration in the South— It will enable the
people the more easily to suppress any up-
risings there, which their misrepresenta-
tions of purposes may have encouraged — "


"Springfield. Ills. Dec. lO. i860
"Hon. L. Trumbull.

"My dear Sir. Let there be no com-
promise on the question of extending slav-
ery — If there be, all our labor is lost,
and, ere long, must be done again — The
dangerous ground — that into which
some of our friends have a hankering to
run — is Pop. Sov — Have none of it —
Stand firm. The tug has to come, & bet-
ter now than any time hereafter ^ —
"Yours as ever

"A. Lincoln."

1 Lincoln was elected November 6, i860. Threats of
secession of Southern States were rife, the people throughout
the Northern and in many of the Southern States were
anxiously striving to check the secession movement, offers
of compromise were urged, many public meetings were
held which favored liberal concessions. Reaction seemed
to be setting in, and many who had helped to elect Lincoln
seemed to repent ; but whoever else was shaken, he was not.

2 Benjamin F. Wade, Senator from Ohio, later pre-


"Springfield, Ills. Dec. 17. i860
"Hon. Lyman Trumbull

"My dear Sir: Yours inclosing Mr.
Wade's ^ letter, which I herewith return,
is received —

"If any of our friends do prove false,
and fix up a compromise on the territorial
question, I am for fighting again — that is
all — It is but repetition for me to say I
am for an honest inforcement of the Con-
stitution — fugitive slave clause included —

" Mr. Gilmer ^ of N. C. wrote me ; and
I answered confidentially, inclosing my
letter to Gov. Corwin, to be delivered or
not, as he might deem prudent — I now
inclose you a copy of it — "

[The signature has been cut off — probably
for an autograph-seeker]

"Springfield, Ills. Dec, 24, i860
"Hon. Lyman Trumbull

"My dear Sir 1 expect to be able to
offer Mr. Blair * a place in the cabinet ;
but I can not, as yet, be committed on the
matter, to any extent whatever —

"Despatches have come here two days
in succession, that the Forts in South Car-
olina will be surrendered by the order, or
consent at least, of the President ^ —

"I can scarcely believe this; but if it
prove true, I will, if our friends at Wash-
ington concur, announce publicly at once
that they are to be retaken after the inau-
guration — This will give the Union Men
a rallying cry, and preparation will pro-
ceed somewhat on their side, as well as on
the other —

"Yours as ever

"A. Lincoln."

siding officer of the Senate after Johnson's accession to the

3 John A. Gilmer, member of Congress from North
Carolina, had been Whig candidate for Governor, but was
defeated. He was suggested for Lincoln's cabinet.

■* Montgomery Blair, subsequently Postmaster-Gen-

5 South Carolina passed its ordinance of secession, De-
cember 20, i860.

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Online LibraryAbraham LincolnA Lincoln correspondence [twenty-two letters of historical interest here published for the first time] → online text (page 2 of 2)