The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7

“He was paying his money to this one, and that one, and t’ other
one, and sufferin’ great loss because it was n’t silver instead
of State paper; and the sweet distress he seemed to be in,–his
very features, in the ecstatic agony of his soul, spoke audibly
and distinctly, ‘Dear girls, it is distressing, but I cannot
marry you all. Too well I know how much you suffer; but do, do
remember, it is not my fault that I am so handsome and so

“As this last was expressed by a most exquisite contortion of his
face, he seized hold of one of their hands, and squeezed, and
held on to it about a quarter of an hour. ‘Oh, my good fellow!’
says I to myself, ‘if that was one of our Democratic gals in the
Lost Townships, the way you ‘d get a brass pin let into you would
be about up to the head.’ He a Democrat! Fiddlesticks! I tell
you, Aunt ‘Becca, he’s a Whig, and no mistake; nobody but a Whig
could make such a conceity dunce of himself.”

“Well,” says I, “maybe he is; but, if he is, I ‘m mistaken the
worst sort. Maybe so, maybe so; but, if I am, I’ll suffer by it;
I’ll be a Democrat if it turns out that Shields is a Whig,
considerin’ you shall be a Whig if he turns out a Democrat.”

“A bargain, by jingoes!” says he; “but how will we find out?”

“Why,” says I, “we’ll just write and ax the printer.”

“Agreed again!” says he; “and by thunder! if it does turn out
that Shields is a Democrat, I never will __________”

“Jefferson! Jefferson!”

“What do you want, Peggy?”

“Do get through your everlasting clatter some time, and bring me
a gourd of water; the child’s been crying for a drink this
livelong hour.”

“Let it die, then; it may as well die for water as to be taxed to
death to fatten officers of State.”

Jeff run off to get the water, though, just like he hadn’t been
saying anything spiteful, for he’s a raal good-hearted fellow,
after all, once you get at the foundation of him.

I walked into the house, and, “Why, Peggy,” says I, “I declare we
like to forgot you altogether.”

“Oh, yes,” says she, “when a body can’t help themselves,
everybody soon forgets ’em; but, thank God! by day after to-
morrow I shall be well enough to milk the cows, and pen the
calves, and wring the contrary ones’ tails for ’em, and no thanks
to nobody.”

“Good evening, Peggy,” says I, and so I sloped, for I seed she
was mad at me for making Jeff neglect her so long.

And now, Mr. Printer, will you be sure to let us know in your
next paper whether this Shields is a Whig or a Democrat? I don’t
care about it for myself, for I know well enough how it is
already; but I want to convince Jeff. It may do some good to let
him, and others like him, know who and what these officers of
State are. It may help to send the present hypocritical set to
where they belong, and to fill the places they now disgrace with
men who will do more work for less pay, and take fewer airs while
they are doing it. It ain’t sensible to think that the same men
who get us in trouble will change their course; and yet it’s
pretty plain if some change for the better is not made, it’s not
long that either Peggy or I or any of us will have a cow left to
milk, or a calf’s tail to wring.

Yours truly,

REBECCA ____________


SPRINGFIELD, ILL., Aug 29, 1842.

HON. HENRY CLAY, Lexington, Ky.

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 will not deny us the pleasure of seeing you in our
State. We are aware of the toil necessarily incident to a
journey by one circumstanced 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 will 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 visited Illinois, or at least this
portion of it; and should you now yield to our request, we
promise you such a reception as shall he worthy of the man on
whom are now turned the fondest hopes of a great and suffering

Please inform us at the earliest convenience whether we may
expect you.

Very respectfully your obedient servants,
Executive Committee “Clay Club.”

(Clay’s answer, September 6, 1842, declines with thanks.)


TREMONT, September 17, 1842.

ABRA. 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 disagreeable 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 a
way 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, vituperation,
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 nature 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
information satisfies me that I have become by some means or
other the object of your secret hostility. I will not take the
trouble of inquiring into the reason of all this; but I will take
the liberty of requiring a full, positive, and absolute
retraction of all offensive allusions used by you in these
communications, in relation to my private character and standing
as a man, as an apology for the insults conveyed in them.

This may prevent consequences which no one will regret more than

Your obedient servant, JAS. SHIELDS.


TREMONT, September 17, 1842

JAS. SHIELDS, ESQ.:–Your note of to-day was handed me by General
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 all 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.




TREMONT, September 17, 1842.

ABRA. 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 will 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 therefore 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 allusions contained therein in relation to my
private character and standing. If you are not the author of any
of these articles, your denial will he sufficient. I will say
further, it is not my intention to menace, but to do myself

Your obedient servant,


Lincoln’s Second,

September 19, 1842.

In case Whitesides shall signify a wish to adjust this affair
without 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 your 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 fight are to be–

First. Weapons: Cavalry broadswords of the largest size,
precisely equal in all respects, and such as now used by the
cavalry 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 plank and parallel with it, each at the distance of
the whole length of the sword and three feet additional from the
plank; and the passing of his own such line by either party
during the fight shall be deemed a surrender of the contest.

Third. Time: On Thursday evening at five o’clock, if you can get
it so; but in no case 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 side
of the river, the particular spot to be agreed on by you.

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


SPRINGFIELD, October 4, 1842.

DEAR SPEED:–You have heard 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 by Dr. Merryman, so sent him a kind of quasi-
challenge, inviting him to meet him at the Planter’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 challenge, 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 Planter’s House as desired, he
would challenge him. Merryman 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 receiving it,
saying 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
comments 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 Merryman
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 something on that subject which you know to be of such
infinite 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 well 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 your letters. But I want to ask a close question, “Are you
now in feeling 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,



November 2, 1842.


Owing to my absence, yours of the 22nd ult. was not received
till this moment. Judge Logan and myself are willing to attend
to any business in the Supreme Court you may send us. As to
fees, it is impossible to establish a rule that will apply in
all, or even a great many cases. We believe we are never accused
of being very unreasonable in this particular; and we would
always be easily satisfied, provided we could see the money–but
whatever fees we earn at a distance, if not paid before, we have
noticed, we never hear of after the work is done. We, therefore,
are growing a little sensitive on that point.

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