Abraham Lincoln.

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

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day this morning. They say he was very loath to die. . . .


February 25, 1842. — Letter to Joshua F. Speed.

Springfield, February 25, 1842.

Bear Speed : I received yours of the 12th written the day you
went down to William's place, some days since, but delayed answer-
ing it till I should receive the promised one of the 16th, which came
last night. I opened the letter with intense anxiety and trepidation ;
so much so, that, although it turned out better than I expected, I have
hardly yet, at a distance of ten hours, become calm.

I tell you. Speed, our forebodings (for which you and I are pecu-
liar) are aU the worst sort of nonsense. I fancied, from the time I


received your letter of Saturday, that the one of Wednesday was
never to come, and yet it did come, and what is more, it is perfectly
clear, both from its tone and handwriting, that you were much hap-
pier, or, if you think the term preferable, less miserable, when you
wrote it than when you wrote the last one before. You had so ob-
viously improved at the very time I so much fancied you would
have growTi worse. You say that something, indescribably horrible
and alarming still haunts you. You will not say that three months
from now, I will venture. When j'^our nerves once get steady now,
the whole trouble will be over forever. Nor should you become impa-
tient at their being even very slow in becoming steady. Again you
say, you much fear that that Elysium of which you have dreamed
so much is never to be realized. Well, if it shall not, I dare swear
it will not be the fault of her who is now your wife. I now have no
doubt that it is the peculiar misfortune of both you and me to
dream dreams of Elysium far exceeding all that anything earthly
can realize. Far short of your dreams as you may be, no woman
could do more to realize them than that same black-eyed Fanny. If
you could but contemplate her through my imagination, it would ap-
pear ridiculous to you that any one should for a moment think of
being unhappy with her. My old father used to have a saying that
" If you make a bad bargain, hug it aU the tighter" ; and it occurs
to me that if the bargain you have just closed can possibly be
called a bad one, it is certainly the most pleasant one for applying
that maxim to which my fancy can by any effort picture.

I write another letter, inclosing this, which you can show her, if
she desires it. I do this because she would think strangely, perhaps,
should you teU her that you received no letters from me, or, telling
her you do, refuse to let her see them. I close this, entertaining the
confident hope that every successive letter I shall have from you
(which I here pray may not be few, nor far between) may show vou
possessing a more steady hand and cheerful heart than the last
preceding it. As ever, your friend,


March 27, 1842.— Letter to Joshua F. Speed.

Springfield, March 27, 1842.
Dear Speed: Yours of the 10th instant was received three or four
days since. You know I am sincere when I tell you the pleasure its
contents gave me was, and is, inexpressible. As to your farm matter,
I have no sympathy with you. I have no farm, nor ever expect to
have, and consequently have not studied the subject enough to be
much interested with it. I can only say that I am glad you are
satisfied and pleased with it. But on that other subject, to me of
the most intense interest whether in joy or sorrow, I never had the
power to withhold my sympathy from you. It cannot be told how
it now thrills me with joy to hear you say you are "far happier than
you ever expected to be." That much I know is enough. I know
you too well to suppose your expectations were not, at least, some-
V0L.L— 5.


times extravagant, and if the reality exceeds them all, I say, Enough,
dear Lord. I am not going beyond the truth when I tell you that
the short space it took me to read your last letter gave me more plear
sure than the total sum of all I have enjoyed since the fatal 1st of
January, 1841. Since then it seems to me I should have been en-
tirely happy, but for the never-absent idea that there is one still un-
happy whom I have contributed to make so. That stiU kills my soul.
I cannot but reproach myself for even wishing to be happy while
she is otherwise. She accompanied a large party on the rail-
road cars to Jacksonville last Monday, and on her return spoke, so
that I heard of it, of having enjoyed the trip exceedingly. God be
praised for that.

You know with what sleepless vigilance I have watched you ever
since the commencement of your affair ; and although I am almost
confldent it is useless, I cannot forbear once more to say that I think
it is even yet possible for your spirits to flag down and leave you
miserable. If they should, don't fail to remember that they cannot
long remain so. One thing I can tell you which I know you wiU be

glad to hear, and that is that I have seen and scrutinized her

feelings as well as I could, and am fully convinced she is far happier
now than she has been for the last fifteen months past.

You will see by the last " Sangamon Journal" that I made a
temperance speech on the 22d of February, which I claim that Fanny
and you shall read as an act of charity to me ; for I cannot learn
that anybody else has read it, or is likely to. Fortunately it is not
very long, and I shall deem it a sufBcient compliance with my re-
quest if one of you listens while the other reads it.

As to your Lockridge matter, it is only necessary to say that there
has been no court since you left, and that the next commences to-
morrow morning, dui-ing which I suppose we cannot fail to get a

I wish you would learn of Everett what he would take, over and
above a discharge for aU the trouble we have been at, to take his busi-
ness out of our hands and give it to somebody else. It is impos-
sible to collect money on that or any other claim here now; and
although you know I am not a very petulant man, I declare I am
almost out of patience with Mr. Everett's importunity. It seems like
he not only writes all the letters he can himself, but gets everybody
else in Louisville and vicinity to be constantly writing to us about
his claim. I have always said that Mr. Everett is a very clever fel-
low, and I am very sorry he cannot be obliged ; but it does seem to
me he ought to know we are interested to collect his claim, and there-
fore would do it if we could.

I am neither joking nor in a pet when I say we would thank him
to transfer his business to some other, without any compensation for
what we have done, provided he wiU see the court cost paid, for
which we are security.

The sweet violet you inclosed came safely to hand, but it was so
dry, and mashed so flat, that it crumbled to dust at the first attempt
to handle it. The juice that mashed out of it stained a place in the
letter, which I mean to preserve and cherish for the sake of her who


procured it to be sent. My renewed good wishes to liei- in particu-
lar, and generally to aU such of your relations who know me.

As ever, Lincoln.

July 4, 1842. — Letter to Joshua F. Speed.

Springfield, Illinois, July 4, 1842.

Bear Speed : Yours of the 16th June was received only a day or
two since. It was not mailed at Louisville till the 25th. You speak
of the great time that has elapsed since I wrote you. Let me ex-
plain that. Your letter reached here a day or two after I had started
on the circuit. I was gone five or six weeks, so that I got the letters
only a few weeks before Butler started to your country. I thought
it scarcely worth while to write you the news which he could and
would tell you more in detail. On his return he told me you would
write me soon, and so I waited for your letter. As to my having
been displeased with yoiu* advice, surely you know better than that.
I know you do, and therefore will not labor to convince yoii. True,
that subject is painful to me ; but it is not your silence, or the silence
of all the world, that can make me forget it. I acknowledge the
correctness of your advice too ; but before I resolve to do the one
thing or the other, I must gain my confidence in my own ability to
keep my resolves when they are made. In that ability you know I
once prided myself as the only or chief gem of my character ; that
gem I lost — how and where you know too well. I have not yet re-
gaiaed it ; and until I do, I cannot trust myself in any matter of
much importance. I believe now that had you understood my case
at the time as well as I understood yours afterward, by the aid you
would have given me I should have sailed through clear, but that
does not now afford me sufficient confidence to begin that or the
like of that again.

You make a kind acknowledgment of your obligations to me for
your present happiness. I am pleased with that acknowledgment.
But a thousand times more am I pleased to know that you enjoy a
degree of happiness worthy of an acknowledgment. The truth is, I
am not sure that there was any merit with me in the part I took in
your difficulty; I was drawn to it by a fate. If I would I could not
have done less than I did. I always was superstitious ; I believe
God made me one of the instruments of bringing your Fanny and
you together, which union I have no doubt he had fore-ordained.
Whatever he designs he will do for me yet. " Stand still, and see
the salvation of the Lord" is my text just now. If, as you say, you
have told Fanny all, I should have no objection to her seeing this
letter, but for its reference to our friend here: let her seeing it de-
pend upon whether she has ever known anything of my affairs ; and
if she has not, do not let her.

I do not think I can come to Kentucky this season. I am so poor
and make so little headway in the world, that I drop back in a month
of idleness as much as I gain in a year's sowing. I should like to
visit you again. I should like to see that " sis" of yours that was


absent when I was there, though I suppose she would run away
again if she were to hear I was coming.

• ••"*"

My respects and esteem to all your friefids there, and, by your
permission, my love to your Fanny. Ever yours,


August 29, 1842.— Invitation to Henry Clay.

Speingpield, Illinois, August 29, 1842.
Hon. Heney Clay, Lexington, Kentucky.

Dear Sir: We hear you are to visit Indianapolis, Indiana, on the
5th of October next. If our information in this is correct, we hope
you win not deny us the pleasure of seeing you in our State. We
are aware of the toil necessarily incident to a journey by one cir-
cumstanced as you are ; but once you have embarked, as you have
already determined to do, the toil would not be greatly augmented
by extending the journey to our capital. The season of the year
wiU be most favorable for good roads and pleasant weather; and
although we cannot but believe you would be highly gratified with
such a visit to the prairie-land, the pleasure it would give us, and
thousands such as we, is beyond all question. You have never vis-
ited Illinois, or at least this portion of it; and should you now yield
to our request, we promise you such a reception as shall be worthy
of the man on whom are now turned the fondest hopes of a great
and suffering nation.

Please inform us at the earliest convenience whether we may ex-
pect you. Very respectfully, your obedient servants,
A. Gr. Heney, A. T. Bledsoe,

C. BiECHALL, A. Lincoln,

J. M. Cabanxss, Robt. Irwin,

P. A. Saundees, J. M. Allen,

J. N. Peancis, Executive Committee, "Clay Club."
(Clay's answer, September 6, 1842, declines with thanks.)

September 17, 1842. — Correspondence about the
Lincoln-Shields Duel.

Tremont, September 17, 1842.
A. Lincoln, Esq. : I regret that my absence on public business
compelled me to postpone a matter of private consideration a little
longer than I could have desired. It will only be necessary, however,
to account for it by informing you that I have been to Quincy on
business that would not admit of delay. I will now state briefly the
reasons of my troubling you with this communication, the disagree-
able nature of which I regret, as I had hoped to avoid any difficulty
with any one in Springfield while residing there, by endeavoring to


conduct myself in such away amongst both my political friends and
opponents as to escape the necessity of any. Whilst thus abstaining
from giving provocation, I have become the object of slander, vitu-
peration, and personal abuse, which, were I capable of submitting
to, I would prove myself worthy of the whole of it.

In two or three of the last numbers of " The Sangamon Journal,"
articles of the most personal natm-e and calculated to degrade me
have made their appearance. On inquiring, I was informed by the
editor of that paper, through the medium of my friend General
"Whitesides, that you are the author of those articles. This informa-
tion satisfies me that I have become by some means or other the ob-
ject of your secret hostility. I will not take the trouble of inquiring
into the reason of all this; but I wUl take the liberty of requiring a
full, positive, and absolute retraction of all offensive allusions used
by yoii in these communications, in relation to my private character
and standing as a man, as an apology for the insults conveyed in

This may prevent consequences which no one wUl regret more
than myself. Your obedient servant,

Jas. Shields.

Tremont, September 17, 1842.

Jas. Shields, Usq. : Tour note of to-day was handed me by Gen-
eral Whitesides. In that note you say you have been informed,
through the medium of the editor of " The Journal,'' that I am the
author of certain articles in that paper which you deem personally
abusive of you; and without stopping to inquire whether I really
am the author, or to point out what is offensive in them, you
demand an unqualified retraction of aU that is offensive, and then
proceed to hint at consequences.

Now, sir, there is in this so much assumption of facts and so much
of menace as to consequences, that I cannot submit to answer that
note any further than I have, and to add that the consequences to
which I suppose you allude would be matter of as great regret to
me as it possibly could to you. Respectfully,

A. Lincoln.

Tbemont, September 17, 1842.
A. Lincoln, Esq. : In reply to my note of this date, you intimate
that I assume facts and menace consequences, and that you cannot
submit to answer it further. As now, sir, you desire it, I wDl be a
little more particular. The editor of "The Sangamon Journal"
gave me to understand that you are the author of an article which
appeared, I think, in that paper of the 2d September instant, headed
" The Lost Townships," and signed Rebecca or 'Becca. I would there-
fore take the liberty of asking whether you are the author of said
article, or any other over the same signature which has appeared in
any of the late numbers of that paper. If so, I repeat my request


of an absolute retraction of all offensive allusion contained therein
in relation to my private character and standing. If you are not
the author of any of these articles, your denial will be sufScient. 1
win say further, it is not my intention to menace, but to do myself
justice! Your obedient servant,

Jas. Shields.

September 19, 1842.— Memorandum of Instructions to E. H.
Mbrryman, Lincoln's Second.

In case Whitesides shall signify a wish to adjust this affair with-
out further difficulty, let him know that if the present papers be
withdrawn, and a note from Mr. Shields asking to know if I am the
author of the articles of which he complains, and asking that I shall
make him gentlemanly satisfaction if I am the author, and this
without menace, or dictation as to what that satisfaction shall be,
a pledge is made that the following answer shall be given :

"I did write the 'Lost Townships' letter which appeared in the
' Journal' of the 2d instant, but had no participation in any form in
any other article alluding to you. I wrote that wholly for political
effect — I had no intention of injuring your personal or private
character or standing as a man or a gentleman ; and I did not then
think, and do not now think, that that article could produce or has
produced that effect against you; and had I anticipated such an
effect I would have forborne to write it. And I will add that yoxu:
conduct toward me, so far as I know, had always been gentlemanly;
and that I had no personal pique against you, and no cause for any."

If this should be done, I leave it with you to arrange what shall
and what shall not be published. If nothing like this is done, the
preliminaries of the flght are to be —

First. Weapons: Cavalry broadswords of the largest size, pre-
cisely equal in all respects, and such as now used by the cavalrj
company at Jacksonville.

Second. Position : A plank ten feet long, and from nine to twelve
inches broad, to be firmly fixed on edge, on the ground, as the line
between us, which neither is to pass his foot over upon forfeit of his
life. Next a line drawn on the ground on either side of said planl
and parallel with it, each at the distance of the whole length of th(
sword and three feet additional from the plank ; and the passing oJ
his own such line by either party during the fight shall be deemec
a surrender of the contest.

Third. Time : On Thursday evening at five o'clock, if you can gel
it so ; but in no ease to be at a greater distance of time than Friday
evening at five o'clock.

Fourth. Place : Within three miles of Alton, on the opposite sid(
of the river, the particular spot to be agreed on by you.

Any preliminary details coming within the above rules you an
at liberty to make at your discretion ; but you are in no case t(
swerve from these rules, or to pass beyond their limits.


October [4:1], 1842. — Letter to Joshua F. Speed.

Springfield, October [4?], 1842.

Bear Speed : You have beard of my duel with Shields, and I have
now to inform you that the dueling business still rages in this city.
Day before yesterday Shields challenged Butler, who accepted, and
proposed fighting next morning at sunrise in Bob Allen's meadow,
one hundred yards' distance, with rifles. To this Whitesides, Shields's
second, said "No," because of the law. Thus ended duel No. 2.
Yesterday Whitesides chose to consider himself insulted hj Dr.
Merrynian, so sent him a kind of quasi-challenge, inviting him to
meet him at the Plantei-'s House in St. Louis on the next Friday,
to settle their difficulty. Merryman made me his friend, and sent
Whitesides a note, inquiring to know if he meant his note as a chal-
lenge, and if so, that he would, according to the law in such case
made and provided, prescribe the terms of the meeting. Whitesides
returned for answer that if Merryman would meet him at the Plan-
ter's House as desired, he would challenge him. Merrj'man replied
in a note that he denied Whitesides's right to dictate time and
place, but that he (Merryman) would waive the question of time,
and meet him at Louisiana, Missouri. Upon my presenting this
note to Whitesides and stating verbally its contents, he declined re-
ceiving it, sajdng he had business in St. Louis, and it was as near as
Louisiana. Merryman then directed me to notify Whitesides that
he should publish the correspondence between them, with such com-
ments as he thought fit. This I did. Thus it stood at bedtime last
night. This morning Whitesides, by his friend Shields, is praying
for a new trial, on the ground that he was mistaken in Merryman's
proposition to meet him at Louisiana, Missouri, thinking it was the
State of Louisiana. This Men-yman hoots at, and is preparing his
publication ; while the town is in a ferment, and a street fight
somewhat anticipated.

But I began this letter not for what I have been writing, but to
say somethmg on that subject which you know to be of such infi-
nite solicitude to me. The immense sufferings you endured from
the first days of September till the middle of February you never
tried to conceal from me, and I well understood. You have now
been the husband of a lovely woman nearly eight months. That
you are happier now than the day you married her I weU know, for
without you could not be living. But I have your word for it, too,
and the returning elasticity of spirits which is manifested in j'our
letters. But 1 want to ask a close question, " Are you now in feel-
ing as well as judgment glad that you are married as you are?"
From anybody but me this would be an impudent question, not to
be tolerated ; but I know you will pardon it in me. Please answer
it quickly, as I am impatient to know. I have sent my love to your
Fanny so often, I fear she is getting tired of it. However, I venture
to tender it again. Yours forever,



March 1, 1843.— Resolutions at a Whig Meeting at
Springfield, Illinois.

The object of the meeting was stated by Mr. Lincoln of Spring-
field, who offered the following resolutions, which were unanimously
adopted :

Besolved, That a tariff of duties on imported goods, producing sufficient
revenue for the payment of the necessary expenditures of the National Gov-
ernment, and so adjusted as to protect American industry, is indispensably
necessary to the prosperity of the American people.

Besolved, That we are opposed to direct taxation for the support of the
National Grovemment.

Besolved, That a national bank, properly restricted, is highly necessary and
proper to the estabhshment and maintenance of a sound currency, and for
the cheap and safe collection, keepiug, and disbursing of the pubhc revenue.

Besolved, That the distribution of the proceeds of the sales of the pubhc
lands, upon the priaeiples of Mr. Clay's bill, accords with the best interests
of the nation, and particularly with those of the State of Illinois.

Besolved, That we recommend to the Whigs of each congressional district
of the State, to nominate and support at the approaching election a candi-
date of their own principles, regardless of the chances of success.

Besolved, That we recommend to the Whigs of aU portions of the State to
adopt and rigidly adhere to the convention system of nominating candidates.

Besolved, That we recommend to the Whigs of each congressional district
to hold a district convention on or before the first Monday of May next, to be
composed of a number of delegates from each county equal to double the
number of its representatives in the General Assembly, provided, each coimty
shall have at least one delegate. Said delegates to be chosen by primary
meetings of the Whigs, at such times and places as they in their respective
counties may see iit. Said district conventions each to nominate one candi-
date for Congress, and one delegate to a National Convention for the purpose
of nominating candidates for President and Vice-President of the United
States. The seven delegates so nominated to a national convention to have
power to add two delegates to their own number, and to fill all vacancies.

Besolved, That A. T. Bledsoe, S. T. Logan, and A. Lincoln be appointed a
conunittee to prepare an address to the people of the State.

Besolved, That N. W. Edwards, A. G. Henry, James H. Matheny, John C.
Doremus, and James C. Conkling be appointed a Whig Central State Com-
mittee, with authority to fill any vacancy that may occur in the committee.

March 4, 1843. — Circular from Whig Committee.
Address to the People of lUinois.

Fellow-citizens : By a resolution of a meeting of such of the Whigs
of the State as are now at Springfield, we, the undersigned, were ap-
pointed to prepare an address to you. The performance of that task
we now undertake.

Several resolutions were adopted by the meeting ; and the chief
object of this address is to show briefly the reasons for their adoption.

The first of those resolutions declares a tariff of duties upon for-


eign importations, producing sufficient revenue for the support of
tlie General Government, and so adjusted as to protect American
industry, to be indispensably necessary to the prosperity of the
American people ; and the second declares direct taxation for a na-
tional revenue to be improper. Those two resolutions are kindred

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