The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7

June 25, 1841

It having been charged in some of the public prints that Harry
Wilton, late United States marshal for the district of Illinois,
had used his office for political effect, in the appointment of
deputies for the taking of the census for the year 1840, we, the
undersigned, were called upon by Mr. Wilton to examine the papers
in his possession relative to these appointments, and to
ascertain therefrom the correctness or incorrectness of such
charge. We accompanied Mr. Wilton to a room, and examined the
matter as fully as we could with the means afforded us. The only
sources of information bearing on the subject which were
submitted to us were the letters, etc., recommending and opposing
the various appointments made, and Mr. Wilton’s verbal statements
concerning the same. From these letters, etc., it appears that
in some instances appointments were made in accordance with the
recommendations of leading Whigs, and in opposition to those of
leading Democrats; among which instances the appointments at
Scott, Wayne, Madison, and Lawrence are the strongest. According
to Mr. Wilton’s statement of the seventy-six appointments we
examined, fifty-four were of Democrats, eleven of Whigs, and
eleven of unknown politics.

The chief ground of complaint against Mr. Wilton, as we had
understood it, was because of his appointment of so many
Democratic candidates for the Legislature, thus giving them a
decided advantage over their Whig opponents; and consequently our
attention was directed rather particularly to that point. We
found that there were many such appointments, among which were
those in Tazewell, McLean, Iroquois, Coles, Menard, Wayne,
Washington, Fayette, etc.; and we did not learn that there was
one instance in which a Whig candidate for the Legislature had
been appointed. There was no written evidence before us showing
us at what time those appointments were made; but Mr. Wilton
stated that they all with one exception were made before those
appointed became candidates for the Legislature, and the letters,
etc., recommending them all bear date before, and most of them
long before, those appointed were publicly announced candidates.

We give the foregoing naked facts and draw no conclusions from



BLOOMINGTON, ILL., September 27, 1841.

Miss Mary Speed, Louisville, Ky.

By the way, a fine example was presented on board the boat for
contemplating the effect of condition upon human happiness. A
gentleman had purchased twelve negroes in different parts of
Kentucky, and was taking them to a farm in the South. They were
chained six and six together. A small iron clevis was around the
left wrist of each, and this fastened to the main chain by a
shorter one, at a convenient distance from the others, so that
the negroes were strung together precisely like so many fish upon
a trotline. In this condition they were being separated forever
from the scenes of their childhood, their friends, their fathers
and mothers, and brothers and sisters, and many of them from
their wives and children, and going into perpetual slavery where
the lash of the master is proverbially more ruthless and
unrelenting than any other where; and yet amid all these
distressing circumstances, as we would think them, they were the
most cheerful and apparently happy creatures on board. One,
whose offence for which he had been sold was an overfondness for
his wife, played the fiddle almost continually, and the others
danced, sang, cracked jokes, and played various games with cards
from day to day. How true it is that ‘God tempers the wind to
the shorn lamb,’ or in other words, that he renders the worst of
human conditions tolerable, while he permits the best to be
nothing better than tolerable. To return to the narrative: When
we reached Springfield I stayed but one day, when I started on
this tedious circuit where I now am. Do you remember my going to
the city, while I was in Kentucky, to have a tooth extracted, and
making a failure of it? Well, that same old tooth got to paining
me so much that about a week since I had it torn out, bringing
with it a bit of the jawbone, the consequence of which is that my
mouth is now so sore that I can neither talk nor eat.

Your sincere friend,



January 3?, 1842.

MY DEAR SPEED:–Feeling, as you know I do, the deepest solicitude
for the success of the enterprise you are engaged in, I adopt
this as the last method I can adopt to aid you, in case (which
God forbid!) you shall need any aid. I do not place what I am
going to say on paper because I can say it better that way than I
could by word of mouth, but, were I to say it orally before we
part, most likely you would forget it at the very time when it
might do you some good. As I think it reasonable that you will
feel very badly some time between this and the final consummation
of your purpose, it is intended that you shall read this just at
such a time. Why I say it is reasonable that you will feel very
badly yet, is because of three special causes added to the
general one which I shall mention.

The general cause is, that you are naturally of a nervous
temperament; and this I say from what I have seen of you
personally, and what you have told me concerning your mother at
various times, and concerning your brother William at the time
his wife died. The first special cause is your exposure to bad
weather on your journey, which my experience clearly proves to be
very severe on defective nerves. The second is the absence of
all business and conversation of friends, which might divert your
mind, give it occasional rest from the intensity of thought which
will sometimes wear the sweetest idea threadbare and turn it to
the bitterness of death. The third is the rapid and near
approach of that crisis on which all your thoughts and feelings

If from all these causes you shall escape and go through
triumphantly, without another “twinge of the soul,” I shall be
most happily but most egregiously deceived. If, on the contrary,
you shall, as I expect you will at sometime, be agonized and
distressed, let me, who have some reason to speak with judgment
on such a subject, beseech you to ascribe it to the causes I have
mentioned, and not to some false and ruinous suggestion of the

“But,” you will say, “do not your causes apply to every one
engaged in a like undertaking?” By no means. The particular
causes, to a greater or less extent, perhaps do apply in all
cases; but the general one,–nervous debility, which is the key
and conductor of all the particular ones, and without which they
would be utterly harmless,–though it does pertain to you, does
not pertain to one in a thousand. It is out of this that the
painful difference between you and the mass of the world springs.

I know what the painful point with you is at all times when you
are unhappy; it is an apprehension that you do not love her as
you should. What nonsense! How came you to court her? Was it
because you thought she deserved it, and that you had given her
reason to expect it? If it was for that why did not the same
reason make you court Ann Todd, and at least twenty others of
whom you can think, and to whom it would apply with greater force
than to her? Did you court her for her wealth? Why, you know she
had none. But you say you reasoned yourself into it. What do
you mean by that? Was it not that you found yourself unable to
reason yourself out of it? Did you not think, and partly form the
purpose, of courting her the first time you ever saw her or heard
of her? What had reason to do with it at that early stage? There
was nothing at that time for reason to work upon. Whether she
was moral, amiable, sensible, or even of good character, you did
not, nor could then know, except, perhaps, you might infer the
last from the company you found her in.

All you then did or could know of her was her personal appearance
and deportment; and these, if they impress at all, impress the
heart, and not the head.

Say candidly, were not those heavenly black eyes the whole basis
of all your early reasoning on the subject? After you and I had
once been at the residence, did you not go and take me all the
way to Lexington and back, for no other purpose but to get to see
her again, on our return on that evening to take a trip for that
express object? What earthly consideration would you take to find
her scouting and despising you, and giving herself up to another?
But of this you have no apprehension; and therefore you cannot
bring it home to your feelings.

I shall be so anxious about you that I shall want you to write by
every mail. Your friend,



SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, February 3, 1842.

DEAR SPEED:–Your letter of the 25th January came to hand to-day.
You well know that I do not feel my own sorrows much more keenly
than I do yours, when I know of them; and yet I assure you I was
not much hurt by what you wrote me of your excessively bad
feeling at the time you wrote. Not that I am less capable of
sympathizing with you now than ever, not that I am less your
friend than ever, but because I hope and believe that your
present anxiety and distress about her health and her life must
and will forever banish those horrid doubts which I know you
sometimes felt as to the truth of your affection for her. If
they can once and forever be removed (and I almost feel a
presentiment that the Almighty has sent your present affliction
expressly for that object), surely nothing can come in their
stead to fill their immeasurable measure of misery. The death-
scenes of those we love are surely painful enough; but these we
are prepared for and expect to see: they happen to all, and all
know they must happen. Painful as they are, they are not an
unlooked for sorrow. Should she, as you fear, be destined to an
early grave, it is indeed a great consolation to know that she is
so well prepared to meet it. Her religion, which you once
disliked so much, I will venture you now prize most highly. But
I hope your melancholy bodings as to her early death are not well
founded. I even hope that ere this reaches you she will have
returned with improved and still improving health, and that you
will have met her, and forgotten the sorrows of the past in the
enjoyments of the present. I would say more if I could, but it
seems that I have said enough. It really appears to me that you
yourself ought to rejoice, and not sorrow, at this indubitable
evidence of your undying affection for her. Why, Speed, if you
did not love her although you might not wish her death, you would
most certainly be resigned to it. Perhaps this point is no
longer a question with you, and my pertinacious dwelling upon it
is a rude intrusion upon your feelings. If so, you must pardon
me. You know the hell I have suffered on that point, and how
tender I am upon it. You know I do not mean wrong. I have been
quite clear of “hypo” since you left, even better than I was
along in the fall. I have seen ______ but once. She seemed very
cheerful, and so I said nothing to her about what we spoke of.

Old Uncle Billy Herndon is dead, and it is said this evening that
Uncle Ben Ferguson will not live. This, I believe, is all the
news, and enough at that unless it were better. Write me
immediately on the receipt of this. Your friend, as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, February 13, 1842.

DEAR SPEED:–Yours of the 1st instant came to hand three or four
days ago. When this shall reach you, you will have been Fanny’s
husband several days. You know my desire to befriend you is
everlasting; that I will never cease while I know how to do
anything. But you will always hereafter be on ground that I have
never occupied, and consequently, if advice were needed, I might
advise wrong. I do fondly hope, however, that you will never
again need any comfort from abroad. But should I be mistaken in
this, should excessive pleasure still be accompanied with a
painful counterpart at times, still let me urge you, as I have
ever done, to remember, in the depth and even agony of
despondency, that very shortly you are to feel well again. I am
now fully convinced that you love her as ardently as you are
capable of loving. Your ever being happy in her presence, and
your intense anxiety about her health, if there were nothing
else, would place this beyond all dispute in my mind. I incline
to think it probable that your nerves will fail you occasionally
for a while; but once you get them firmly guarded now that
trouble is over forever. I think, if I were you, in case my mind
were not exactly right, I would avoid being idle. I would
immediately engage in some business, or go to making preparations
for it, which would be the same thing. If you went through the
ceremony calmly, or even with sufficient composure not to excite
alarm in any present, you are safe beyond question, and in two or
three months, to say the most, will be the happiest of men.

I would desire you to give my particular respects to Fanny; but
perhaps you will not wish her to know you have received this,
lest she should desire to see it. Make her write me an answer to
my last letter to her; at any rate I would set great value upon a
note or letter from her. Write me whenever you have leisure.
Yours forever,
P. S.–I have been quite a man since you left.


SPRINGFIELD, ILL., Feb. 16, 1842.


Yours of the 10th is duly received. Judge Logan and myself are
doing business together now, and we are willing to attend to your
cases as you propose. As to the terms, we are willing to attend
each case you prepare and send us for $10 (when there shall be no
opposition) to be sent in advance, or you to know that it is
safe. It takes $5.75 of cost to start upon, that is, $1.75 to
clerk, and $2 to each of two publishers of papers. Judge Logan
thinks it will take the balance of $20 to carry a case through.
This must be advanced from time to time as the services are
performed, as the officers will not act without. I do not know
whether you can be admitted an attorney of the Federal court in
your absence or not; nor is it material, as the business can be
done in our names.

«- Previous | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 | View All | Next -»