Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; online

. (page 11 of 91)
Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 11 of 91)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

force their rights as to decide absolutely which one of the candidates
shall be successful. Let me show the reason of this. Hardin, or
some other Morgan candidate, will get Putnam, Marshall, Wood-
ford, Tazewell, and Logan — making sixteen. Then you and Mason,
having three, can give the victory to either side.

You say you shall instruct your delegates for me, unless I object.
I certainly shall not object. That would be too pleasant a compli-
ment for me to tread in the dust. And besides, if anything should
happen (which, however, is not probable) by which Baker should be
thrown out of the flght, I would be at liberty to accept the nomina-
tion if I could get it. I do, however, feel myseK bound not to hin-
der him in any way from getting the nomination. I should despise
myself were I to attempt it. I think, then, it would be proper for
your meeting to appoint three delegates, and to instruct them to go
for some one as a first choice, some one else as a second, and per-
haps some one as a third; and if in those instructions I were named
as the first choice, it would gratify me very much. If you wish to
hold the balance of power, it is important for you to attend to and
secure the vote of Mason also. You should be sure to have men
appointed delegates that you know you can safely confide in. If
yourself and James Short were appointed from your county, all


would be safe ; but whether Jim's woman affair a year ago might
not be in the way of his appointment is a question. I don't know
whether you know it, but I know him to be as honorable a man as
there is in the world. You have my permission, and even request,
to show this letter to Short ; but to no one else, unless it be a very
particular friend, who you know will not speak of it.

Yours as ever, A. Lincoln.

P. S. Will you write me again ?

To Martin M. Morris, Petersburg, Illinois.

April 14, 1843. — Letter to Martin M. Morris.

AprH 14, 1843.
Friend Morris : I have heard it intimated that Baker has been at-
tempting to get you or Miles, or both of you, to violate the instruc-
tions of the meeting that appointed you, and to go for him. I have
insisted, and still insist, that this cannot be true. Surely Baker
would not do the like. As well might Hardin ask me to vote for
him in the convention. Again, it is said there will be an attempt to
get up instructions in your county requiring you to go for Baker.
This is all wrong. Upon the same rule, why might not I fly from
the decision against me in Sangamon, and get up instructions to their
delegates to go for me ? There are at least 1200 Whigs in the county
that took no part, and yet I would as soon put my liead in the fire
as to attempt it. Besides, if any one should get the nomination by
such extraordinary means, all harmony in the district would inevita-
bly be lost. Honest Whigs (and very nearly aU of them are honest)
would not quietly abide such enormities. I repeat, such an attempt
on Baker's part cannot be true. Write me at Springfield how the
matter is. Don't show or speak of this letter,

A. Lincoln.

May 18, 1843. — Letter to Joshua F. Speed.

Springpibld, May 18, 1843.

Dear Speed: Yours of the 9th instant is duly received, which I do
not meet as a "bore," but as a most welcome visitor. I wDl answer
the business part of it first. . . .

In relation to our Congress matter here, you were right in sup-
posing I would support the nominee. Neither Baker nor I, however,
is the maiu but Hardin, so far as I can judge from present appear-
ances. We shall have no split or trouble about the matter; all will
be harmony. In relation to the " coming events" about which But-
ler wrote you, I had not heard one word before I got your letter ;
but I have so much confidence in the judgment of a Butler on such
a subject that I incline to think there may be some reality in it.
What day does Butler appoint? By the way, how do "events" of
Vol. I.— 6.


the same sort come on in your family? Are you possessing houses
and lands, and oxen and asses, and men-servants and maid-servants,
and begetting sons and daughters? We are not keeping house, hut
boarding at the Globe Tavern, which is very well kept now by a
widow lady of the name of Beck. Our room (the same that Dr.
Wallace occupied there) and boarding only costs us four dollars a
week. Ann Todd was married something more than a year since to
a fellow by the name of Campbell, and who, Mary says, is pretty
much of a "dunce," though he has a little money and property.
They live in Boonville, Missouri, and have not been heard from
lately enough for me to say anything about her health. I reckon it
will scarcely be in our power to visit Kentucky this year. Besides
poverty and the necessity of attending to businessj those "coming
events," I suspect, would be somewhat in the way. I most heartily
wish you and your Fanny would not fail to come. Just let us know
the time, and we will have a room provided for you at our house, and
all be merry together for a while. Be sure to give my respects to
your mother and family; assure her that if ever I come near her, I
will not fail to call and see her. Mary joins in sending love to your
Fanny and you. Tours as ever,

A. Lincoln.

November 17, 1845. — Letter to B, F. James.

Springfield, November 17, 1845.

Friend James : The paper at Pekin has nominated Hardin for
governor; and, commenting on this, the Alton paper indirectly
nominated him for Congress. It would give Hardm a great start,
and perhaps use me up, if the Whig papers of the district should
nominate him for Congress. If your feelings toward me are the
same as when I saw you (which I have no reason to doubt), I wish
you would let nothing appear in your paper which may operate
against me. You understand. Matters stand just as they did when
I saw you. Baker is certainly off the track, and I fear Hardin in-
tends to be on it..

In relation to the business you wrote me of some time since, I sup-
pose the marshal called on you ; and we think it can be adjusted at
court to the satisfaction of you and friend Thompson.

A. Lincoln.

November 24, 1845. — Letter to B. F. James.

Springfield, November 24, 1845.
Friend James : Yours of the 19th was not received till this morn-
mg. The error I fell into in relation to the Pekin paper I dis-
covered myself the day after I wrote you. The way I fell into it
was that Stuart (John T.) met me in the court, and told me about a
nommation having been made in the Pekin paper, and abo^^t the
comments upon it in the Alton paper ; and without seeing either


paper myself, I wrote you. In writing to you, I only meant to
call your attention to the matter ; and that done, I knew all would
be nght with you. Of course I should not have thought this
necessary if at the time I had known that the nomination had
been made in your paper. And let me assure you that if there is
anything in my letter indicating an opinion that the nomination for
governor, which I supposed to have been made in the Pekin paper,
was operating or could operate against me, such was not my mean-
ing. Now that I know that nomination was made by you, I say that
it may do me good, while I do not see that it can do me harm. But,
while the subject is in agitation, should any of the papers in the dis-
trict nominate the same man for Congress, that would do me harm;
and it was that which I wished to guard against. Let me assure you
that I do not for a moment suppose that what you have done is ill-
judged, or that anything that you shall do will be. It was not to
object to the course of the Pekin paper (as I thought it), but to
guard against any falling into the wake of the Alton paper, that I

You perhaps have noticed the "Journal's" article of last week
upon the same subject. It was written without any consultation
with me, but I was told by Francis of its purport before it was pub-
lished. I chose to let it go as it was, lest it should be suspected that
I was attempting to juggle Hardin out of a nomination for Con-
gress by juggling him into one for governor. If you, and the other
papers a little more distant from me, choose to take the same course
you have, of course I have no objection. After you shall have re-
ceived this, I think we shall f uUy understand each other, and that
our views as to the effect of these things are not dissimilar. Confi-
dential, of course. Yours as ever,

A. Lincoln.

January 14, 1846.— Letter to B. F. James.

Springfield, January 14, 1846.
Friend James : Yours of the 10th was not received until this
morning. I cannot but be pleased with its contents. I $aw Henry's
communication in your paper, as also your editorial remai-ks,
neither of which, in my opinion, was in any way misjudged, — both
quite the thing. I think just as you do concerning the dictation of
the course of the Alton paper, and also concerning its utter harm-
lessness. As to the proposition to hold the convention at Peters-
burg, I will at once tell you all I know and all I feel. A good friend
of ours there — John Bennett — wrote me that he thought it would
do good with the Whigs of Menard to see a respectable convention
conducted in good style. They are a little disinclined to adopt the
convention system ; and Bennett thinks some of their prejudices
would be done away by their havin g the convention amongst them . At
his request, therefore, I had the little paragraph put in the " Journal."
This is all I know. Now as to what I feel. I feel a desire that they
of Petersburg should be gratified, if it can be done without a sacri-


fice of the wishes of others, and without detriment to the cause — no-
thing more. I can gain nothing in the contest by having it there. I
showed your letter to Stuart, and he thinks there is something in
your suggestion of holding it at your town. I should be pleased if
I could concur with you m the hope that my name would be the
only one presented to the convention ; but I cannot. Hardin is a
man of desperate energy and perseverance, and one that never backs
out ; and, I fear, to think otherwise is to be deceived in the charac-
ter of our adversary. I would rejoice to be spared the labor of a
contest ; but " being in," I shall go it thoroughly, and to the bottom.
As to my being able to make a break in the lower counties, I tell
you that I can possibly get Cass, but I do not think I will. Morgan
and Scott are beyond my reach; Menard is safe to me; Mason,
neck and neck ; Logan is mine. To make the matter sure, your en-
tire senatorial district must be secured. Of this I suppose Tazewell
is safe; and I have much done in both the other counties. In
Woodford I have Davenport, Simons, Willard, Bracken, Perry,
Travis, Dr. Hazzard, and the Clarks and some others, aU specially
committed. At Lacon, in Marshall, the very most active friend I
have in the district (if I except yourself) is at work. Through him
I have procured their names, and written to three or four of the
most active Whigs in each precinct of the county. StiU I wish you
all in Tazewell to keep your eyes continually on Woodford and
Marshall. Let no opportunity of making a mark escape. When
they shall be safe, all will be safe, I think.

The Beardstown paper is entirely in the hands of my friends.
The editor is a Whig, and personally dislikes Hardin. When the
Supreme Court shall adjourn (which it is thought will be about the
15th of February), it is my inbention to take a quiet trip through
the towns and neighborhoods of Logan County, Delevan, Tremont,
and on to and through the upper counties. Don't speak of this, or
let it relax any of your vigilance. When I shall reach Tremont, we
will talk over everything at large. Tours truly,

A. Lincoln.

January 16, 1846. — Letter to B. F. James.

Springfield, January 16, 1846.
Bear James: A plan is on foot to change the mode of selecting
the candidate for this district. The movement is intended to injure
me, and, if effected, most likely would injure me to some extent. I
have not time to give particulars now; but I want you to let nothing
prevent your getting an article in your paper of this week, taking
strong ground for the old system under which Hardin and Baker
were nominated, without seeming to know or suspect that any one
desires to change it. I have written Dr. Henry more at length, and
he will probably call and consult with you on getting up the article;
but whether he does or not, don't fail, on any account, to get it in
this week.

A. LmcoLN.


January 27, 1846. — Letter to B. F. James.

Springfield, January 27, 1846.

Dear James : Yours, inclosing the article from the " Whig," is re-
ceived. In my judgment, you have hit the matter exactly right. I
believe it is too late to get the article in the "Journal" of this week;
but Dickinson will understand it just as well from your paper, know-
ing as he does your position toward me. More than all,! wrote him
at the same time I did you. As to suggestions for the committee, I
would say appoint the convention for the first Monday of May. As
to the place, I can hai-dly make a suggestion, so many points desiring
it. I was at Petersburg Saturday and Sunday, and they are very
anxious for it there. A friend has also written me desiring it at

I would have the committee leave the mode of choosing delegates
to the Whigs of the different counties, as may best suit them respec-
tively. I would have them propose, for the sake of uniformity, that
the delegates should all be instructed as to their man, and the dele-
gation of each county should go as a unit. If, without this, some
counties should send united delegations and others divided ones, it
might make bad work. Also have it proposed that when the con-
vention shall meet, if there shall be any absent delegates, the mem-
bers present may fill the vacancies with persons to act under the
same instructions which- may be known to have been given to such
absentees. You understand. Other particulars I leave to you. I
am sorry to say I am afraid I cannot go to Mason, so as to attend to
your business; but if I shall determine to go there, I wiU write yon.

Do you hear anything from Woodford and Marshall 1 Davenport,
ten days ago, passed through here, and told me Woodford is safe;
but, though in hope, I am not entirely easy about Marshall. I have
so few personal acquaintances in that county that I cannot get at
[it] right. Dickinson is doing all that any one man can do ; but it
seems like it is an overtask for one. I suppose Dr. Henry will be
with you on Saturday. I got a letter from him to-day on the same
subject as yours, and shall write him before Saturday.

Yours truly, A. Lincoln.

April 18, 1846.— Letter to Johnston.

Tremont, April 18, 1846.
Friend Johnston : Your letter, written some six weeks since, was
received in due course, and also the paper with the parody. It is true,
as suggested it might be, that I have never seen Poe's "Raven";
and I very well know that a parody is almost entirely dependent for
its interest upon the reader's acquaintance with the original. Still
there is enough in the polecat, self -considered, to afford one several
hearty laughs. I think four or five of the last stanzas are decidedly
funny, particularly where Jeremiah "scrubbed and washed, and
prayed and fasted."


I have not your letter now before me; but, from memory, I think
you ask me who is the author of the piece I sent you, and that you
do so ask as to indicate a slight suspicion that I myself am the author.
Beyond all question, I am not the author. I would give all I am
worth, and go in debt, to be able to write so fine a piece as I think
that is. Neither do I know who is the author. I met it in a strag-
gling form in a newspaper last summer, and I remember to. have
seen it once before, about fifteen years ago, and this is all I know
about it. The piece of poetry of my own which I alluded to, I was
led to write under the following circumstances. In the fall of 1844,
thinking I might aid some to carry the State of Indiana for Mr. Clay,
I went into the neighborhood in that State in which I was raised,
where my mother and only sister were buried, and from which I had
been absent about fifteen years. That part of the country is, within
itself, as unpoetical as any spot of the earth; but still, seeing it and
its objects and inhabitants aroused feelings in me which were cer-
tainly poetry; though whether my expression of those feelings is
poetry is quite another question. When I got to writing, the change
of subject divided the thing into four little divisions or cantos, the
first only of which I send you now, and may send the others here-
after. Yours truly,

A. Lincoln.

My childhood's home I see again,

And sadden with the view;
And stiU, as memory crowds my brain,

There 's pleasure in it too.

O Memory ! thou midway world

'Twixt earth and paradise.
"Where things decayed and loved ones lost

In dreamy shadows rise.

And, freed from all that 's earthly vile.

Seem hallowed, pure, and blight,
Like scenes in some enchanted isle

All bathed in liquid light.

As dusky mountains please the eye

"When twilight chases day;
As bugle-notes that, passing by.

In distance die away;

As leaving some grand waterfall,

"We, lingering, list its roar —
So memory wOI hallow all

We 've known, but know no more.

Near twenty years have passed away

Since here I bid farewell
To woods and fields, and scenes of play.

And playmates loved so well.


Where many were, but few remain

Of old familiar things;
But seeing them, to mind again

The lost and absent brings.

The friends I left that parting day,

How changed, as time has sped !
Young childhood grown, strong manhood gray,

And half of all are dead.

I hear the loved survivors teU

How nought from death could save,

TiU every sound appears a knell,
And every spot a grave.

I range the fields with pensive tread.

And pace the hollow rooms,
And feel (companion of the dead)

I 'm living in the tombs.

September 6, 1846, — Letter to Johnston.

Springfield, September 6, 1846.
Friend Johnston : You remember when I wrote you from Tremont
last spring, sending you a little canto of what I called poetry, I
promised to bore you with another some time. I now fulfil the
promise. The subject of the present one is an insane man ; his name
is Matthew Gentry. He is three years older than I, and when we
were boys we went to school together. He was rather a bright lad,
and the son of the rich man of a very poor neighborhood. At the
age of nineteen he unaccountably became furiously mad, from which
condition he gradually settled down into harmless insanity. When,
as I told you in my other letter, I visited my old home in the fall of
1844, 1 found him stUl lingering in this wretched condition. In my
poetizing mood, I could not forget the impression his case made
upon me. Here is the result.

But here 's an object more of dread
Than aught the grave contains —

A human form with reason fled.
While wretched Ufe remains.

When terror spread, and neighbors ran
Your dangerous strength to bind.

And soon, a howling, crazy man,
Your limbs were fast confined :

How then you strove and shrieked aloud.

Your bones and sinews bared ;
And fiendish on the gazing crowd

With burning eyeballs glared ;


And begged and swore, and wept and prayed,

With maniac laughter joined;
How fearful were these signs displayed

By pangs that killed the mind !

And when at length the drear and long

Time soothed thy fiercer woes,
How plaintively thy mournful song

Upon the still night rose !

I 've heard it oft as if I dreamed.

Far distant, sweet and lone,
The funeral dirge it ever seemed

Of reason dead and gone.

To drink its strains I 've stole away,

All stealthily and stiU,
Ere yet the rising god of day

Had streaked the eastern hiU.

Air held her breath ; trees with the spell

Seemed sorrowing angels round,
"Whose swelling tears in dewdrops fell

Upon the listening ground.

But this is past, and naught remains

That raised thee o'er the brute ;
Thy piercing shrieks and soothing strain

Are like, forever mute.

Now fare thee well I More thou the cause

Than subject now of woe.
All mental pangs by time's kind laws

Hast lost the power to know.

O death ! thou awe-inspiring prince

That keepst the world in fear.
Why dost thou tear more blest ones hence,

And leave him lingering here?

If I should ever send another, the subject will be a " Bear-Hunt.'
Yours as ever, A. Lincoln.

October 22, 1846.— Letter to Joshua F. Speed.

Springfield, October 22, 1846.

Bear Speed : . . , Ton, no doubt, assign the suspension oJ

our correspondence to the true philosophic cause; though it musi

be confessed by both of us that this is rather a cold reason foi

allowing a friendship such as ours to die out by degrees. I propos(


now that, upon receipt of this, you shall be considered in my debt,
and under obligations to pay soon, and that neither shall remain
long in arrears hereafter. Are you agreed?

Being elected to Congress, though I am very grateful to our
friends for having done it, has not pleased me as much as I expected.

We have another boy, born the lOth of March. He is very much
such a child as Bob was at his age, rather of a longer order. Bob
is " short and low," and I expect always will be. He talks very
plainly, — almost as plainlv as anybody. He is quite smart enough.
I sometimes fear that he is one of the little rare-ripe sort that are
smarter at about five than ever after. He has a great deal of that
sort of mischief that is the offspring of such animal spirits. Since
I began this letter, a messenger came to tell me Bob was lost ; but
by the time I reached the house his mother had found him and had
him whipped, and by now, very likely, he is run away again. Mary
has read your letter, and wishes to be remembered to Mrs. Speed
and you, in which I most sincerely join her. As ever yours,

A. Lincoln,

February 25, 1847.— Letter to Johnston.

Springfield, February 25, 1847.

Dear Johnston : Yours of the 2d of December was duly delivered
to me by Mr. Williams. To say the least, I am not at all displeased
with your proposal to publish the poetry, or doggerel, or whatever
else it may be called, which I sent you. I consent that it may be
done, together with the third canto, which I now send you.
Whether the prefatory remarks in my letter shall be published with
the verses, I leave entirely to your discretion; but let names be sup-
pressed by all means. I have not sufficient hope, of the verses at-
tracting any favorable notice to tempt me to nsk being ridiculed
for having written them.

Why not drop into the paper, at the same time, the " half dozen
stanzas of your own " ? Or if, for any reason, it suit your feelings
better, send them to me, and I will take pleasure inputting them in
the paper here. Family well, and nothing new. Yours sincerely,

A. Lincoln.

[December 1, 1847?].— Fragments op Tariff Discussion.

Whether the protective policy shall be finally abandoned is now
the question. — Discussion and experience already had, and question
now in greater dispute than ever. — Has there not been some great
error in the mode of discussion? — Propose a single issue of fact,
namely : From 1816 to the present, have protected articles cost us
more of labor during the higher than during the lower duties upon
them? — Introduce the evidence. — Analyze this issue, and try to
show that it embraces the true and the whole question of the pro-
tective policy. — Intended as a test of experience.— The period! se-


lected is fair, because it is a period of peace— a period sufficiently
long [to] furnish a fair average under all other causes operating on
prices, a period in which various modifications of higher and lower
duties have occurred.— Protected articles only are embraced. Show
that these only belong to the question.— The labor price only is em-
braced. Show this to be correct.

I suppose the true effect of duties upon prices to be as follows: If
a certain duty be levied upon an article which by nature cannot be
produced in this country, as three cents a pound upon coffee, the ef-

Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 11 of 91)