The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7


(1) To divide their county into small districts, and to appoint
in each a subcommittee, whose duty it shall be to make a perfect
list of all the voters in their respective districts, and to
ascertain with certainty for whom they will vote. If they meet
with men who are doubtful as to the man they will support, such
voters should be designated in separate lines, with the name of
the man they will probably support.

(2) It will be the duty of said subcommittee to keep a constant
watch on the doubtful voters, and from time to time have them
talked to by those in whom they have the most confidence, and
also to place in their hands such documents as will enlighten and
influence them.

(3) It will also be their duty to report to you, at least once a
month, the progress they are making, and on election days see
that every Whig is brought to the polls.

(4) The subcommittees should be appointed immediately; and by the
last of April, at least, they should make their first report.

(5) On the first of each month hereafter we shall expect to hear
from you. After the first report of your subcommittees, unless
there should be found a great many doubtful voters, you can tell
pretty accurately the manner in which your county will vote. In
each of your letters to us, you will state the number of certain
votes both for and against us, as well as the number of doubtful
votes, with your opinion of the manner in which they will be

(6) When we have heard from all the counties, we shall be able to
tell with similar accuracy the political complexion of the State.
This information will be forwarded to you as soon as received.

(7) Inclosed is a prospectus for a newspaper to be continued
until after the Presidential election. It will be superintended
by ourselves, and every Whig in the State must take it. It will
be published so low that every one can afford it. You must raise
a fund and forward us for extra copies,--every county ought to
send--fifty or one hundred dollars,--and the copies will be
forwarded to you for distribution among our political opponents.
The paper will be devoted exclusively to the great cause in which
we are engaged. Procure subscriptions, and forward them to us

(8) Immediately after any election in your county, you must
inform us of its results; and as early as possible after any
general election we will give you the like information.

(9) A senator in Congress is to be elected by our next
Legislature. Let no local interests divide you, but select
candidates that can succeed.

(10) Our plan of operations will of course be concealed from
every one except our good friends who of right ought to know

Trusting much in our good cause, the strength of our candidates,
and the determination of the Whigs everywhere to do their duty,
we go to the work of organization in this State confident of
success. We have the numbers, and if properly organized and
exerted, with the gallant Harrison at our head, we shall meet our
foes and conquer them in all parts of the Union.

Address your letters to Dr. A. G. Henry, R. F, Barrett; A.
Lincoln, E. D. Baker, J. F. Speed.


March 1, 1840


I have never seen the prospects of our party so bright in these
parts as they are now. We shall carry this county by a larger
majority than we did in 1836, when you ran against May. I do not
think my prospects, individually, are very flattering, for I
think it probable I shall not be permitted to be a candidate; but
the party ticket will succeed triumphantly. Subscriptions to the
"Old Soldier" pour in without abatement. This morning I took
from the post office a letter from Dubois enclosing the names of
sixty subscribers, and on carrying it to Francis I found he had
received one hundred and forty more from other quarters by the
same day's mail. That is but an average specimen of every day's
receipts. Yesterday Douglas, having chosen to consider himself
insulted by something in the Journal, undertook to cane Francis
in the street. Francis caught him by the hair and jammed him
back against a market cart where the matter ended by Francis
being pulled away from him. The whole affair was so ludicrous
that Francis and everybody else (Douglass excepted) have been
laughing about it ever since.

I send you the names of some of the V.B. men who have come out
for Harrison about town, and suggest that you send them some

Moses Coffman (he let us appoint him a delegate yesterday), Aaron
Coffman, George Gregory, H. M. Briggs, Johnson (at Birchall's
Bookstore), Michael Glyn, Armstrong (not Hosea nor Hugh, but a
carpenter), Thomas Hunter, Moses Pileher (he was always a Whig
and deserves attention), Matthew Crowder Jr., Greenberry Smith;
John Fagan, George Fagan, William Fagan (these three fell out
with us about Early, and are doubtful now), John M. Cartmel,
Noah Rickard, John Rickard, Walter Marsh.

The foregoing should be addressed at Springfield.

Also send some to Solomon Miller and John Auth at Salisbury.
Also to Charles Harper, Samuel Harper, and B. C. Harper, and T.
J. Scroggins, John Scroggins at Pulaski, Logan County.

Speed says he wrote you what Jo Smith said about you as he passed
here. We will procure the names of some of his people here, and
send them to you before long. Speed also says you must not fail
to send us the New York Journal he wrote for some time since.

Evan Butler is jealous that you never send your compliments to
him. You must not neglect him next time.

Your friend, as ever,


November 28, 1840.

In the Illinois House of Representatives, November 28, 1840, Mr.
Lincoln offered the following:

Resolved, That so much of the governor's message as relates to
fraudulent voting, and other fraudulent practices at elections,
be referred to the Committee on Elections, with instructions to
said committee to prepare and report to the House a bill for such
an act as may in their judgment afford the greatest possible
protection of the elective franchise against all frauds of all
sorts whatever.


December 2, 1840.

Resolved, That the Committee on Education be instructed to
inquire into the expediency of providing by law for the
examination as to the qualification of persons offering
themselves as school teachers, that no teacher shall receive any
part of the public school fund who shall not have successfully
passed such examination, and that they report by bill or


December 4, 1840

In the House of Representatives, Illinois, December 4, 1840, on
presentation of a report respecting petition of H. N. Purple,
claiming the seat of Mr. Phelps from Peoria, Mr. Lincoln moved
that the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole on the
question, and take it up immediately. Mr. Lincoln considered the
question of the highest importance whether an individual had a
right to sit in this House or not. The course he should propose
would be to take up the evidence and decide upon the facts

Mr. Drummond wanted time; they could not decide in the heat of
debate, etc.

Mr. Lincoln thought that the question had better be gone into
now. In courts of law jurors were required to decide on
evidence, without previous study or examination. They were
required to know nothing of the subject until the evidence was
laid before them for their immediate decision. He thought that
the heat of party would be augmented by delay.

The Speaker called Mr. Lincoln to order as being irrelevant; no
mention had been made of party heat.

Mr. Drummond said he had only spoken of debate. Mr. Lincoln
asked what caused the heat, if it was not party? Mr. Lincoln
concluded by urging that the question would be decided now better
than hereafter, and he thought with less heat and excitement.

(Further debate, in which Lincoln participated.)


December 4, 1840.

In the Illinois House of Representatives, December 4, 1840,House
in Committee of the Whole on the bill providing for payment of
interest on the State debt,--Mr. Lincoln moved to strike out the
body and amendments of the bill, and insert in lieu thereof an
amendment which in substance was that the governor be authorized
to issue bonds for the payment of the interest; that these be
called "interest bonds"; that the taxes accruing on Congress
lands as they become taxable be irrevocably set aside and devoted
as a fund to the payment of the interest bonds. Mr. Lincoln went
into the reasons which appeared to him to render this plan
preferable to that of hypothecating the State bonds. By this
course we could get along till the next meeting of the
Legislature, which was of great importance. To the objection
which might be urged that these interest bonds could not be
cashed, he replied that if our other bonds could, much more could
these, which offered a perfect security, a fund being irrevocably
set aside to provide for their redemption. To another objection,
that we should be paying compound interest, he would reply that
the rapid growth and increase of our resources was in so great a
ratio as to outstrip the difficulty; that his object was to do
the best that could be done in the present emergency. All agreed
that the faith of the State must be preserved; this plan appeared
to him preferable to a hypothecation of bonds, which would have
to be redeemed and the interest paid. How this was to be done, he
could not see; therefore he had, after turning the matter over in
every way, devised this measure, which would carry us on till the
next Legislature.

(Mr. Lincoln spoke at some length, advocating his measure.)

Lincoln advocated his measure, December 11, 1840.

December 12, 1840, he had thought some permanent provision ought
to be made for the bonds to be hypothecated, but was satisfied
taxation and revenue could not be connected with it now.



SPRINGFIELD, Jan 23, 1841

I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were
equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be
one cheerful face on earth. Whether I shall ever be better, I
cannot tell; I awfully forbode I shall not. To remain as I am is
impossible. I must die or be better, as it appears to me....
I fear I shall be unable to attend any business here, and a
change of scene might help me. If I could be myself, I would
rather remain at home with Judge Logan. I can write no more.


January 23, 1841

In the House of Representatives January 23, 1841, while
discussing the continuation of the Illinois and Michigan Canal,
Mr. Moore was afraid the holders of the "scrip" would lose.

Mr. Napier thought there was no danger of that; and Mr. Lincoln
said he had not examined to see what amount of scrip would
probably be needed. The principal point in his mind was this,
that nobody was obliged to take these certificates. It is
altogether voluntary on their part, and if they apprehend it will
fall in their hands they will not take it. Further the loss, if
any there be, will fall on the citizens of that section of the

This scrip is not going to circulate over an extensive range of
country, but will be confined chiefly to the vicinity of the
canal. Now, we find the representatives of that section of the
country are all in favor of the bill.

When we propose to protect their interests, they say to us: Leave
us to take care of ourselves; we are willing to run the risk.
And this is reasonable; we must suppose they are competent to
protect their own interests, and it is only fair to let them do


February 9, 1841.

Appeal to the People of the State of Illinois.

FELLOW-CITIZENS:--When the General Assembly, now about
adjourning, assembled in November last, from the bankrupt state
of the public treasury, the pecuniary embarrassments prevailing
in every department of society, the dilapidated state of the
public works, and the impending danger of the degradation of the
State, you had a right to expect that your representatives would
lose no time in devising and adopting measures to avert
threatened calamities, alleviate the distresses of the people,
and allay the fearful apprehensions in regard to the future
prosperity of the State. It was not expected by you that the
spirit of party would take the lead in the councils of the State,
and make every interest bend to its demands. Nor was it expected
that any party would assume to itself the entire control of
legislation, and convert the means and offices of the State, and
the substance of the people, into aliment for party subsistence.
Neither could it have been expected by you that party spirit,
however strong its desires and unreasonable its demands, would
have passed the sanctuary of the Constitution, and entered with
its unhallowed and hideous form into the formation of the
judiciary system.

At the early period of the session, measures were adopted by the
dominant party to take possession of the State, to fill all
public offices with party men, and make every measure affecting
the interests of the people and the credit of the State operate
in furtherance of their party views. The merits of men and
measures therefore became the subject of discussion in caucus,
instead of the halls of legislation, and decisions there made by
a minority of the Legislature have been executed and carried into
effect by the force of party discipline, without any regard
whatever to the rights of the people or the interests of the
State. The Supreme Court of the State was organized, and judges
appointed, according to the provisions of the Constitution, in
1824. The people have never complained of the organization of
that court; no attempt has ever before been made to change that
department. Respect for public opinion, and regard for the
rights and liberties of the people, have hitherto restrained the
spirit of party from attacks upon the independence and integrity
of the judiciary. The same judges have continued in office since
1824; their decisions have not been the subject of complaint
among the people; the integrity and honesty of the court have not
been questioned, and it has never been supposed that the court
has ever permitted party prejudice or party considerations to
operate upon their decisions. The court was made to consist of
four judges, and by the Constitution two form a quorum for the
transaction of business. With this tribunal, thus constituted,
the people have been satisfied for near sixteen years. The same
law which organized the Supreme Court in 1824 also established
and organized circuit courts to be held in each county in the
State, and five circuit judges were appointed to hold those
courts. In 1826 the Legislature abolished these circuit courts,
repealed the judges out of office, and required the judges of the
Supreme Court to hold the circuit courts. The reasons assigned
for this change were, first, that the business of the country
could be better attended to by the four judges of the Supreme
Court than by the two sets of judges; and, second, the state of
the public treasury forbade the employment of unnecessary
officers. In 1828 a circuit was established north of the
Illinois River, in order to meet the wants of the people, and a
circuit judge was appointed to hold the courts in that circuit.

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