The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7


SPRINGFIELD, January 7, 1846.

Dr. ROBERT BOAL, Lacon, Ill.

DEAR DOCTOR:–Since I saw you last fall, I have often thought of
writing to you, as it was then understood I would, but, on
reflection, I have always found that I had nothing new to tell
you. All has happened as I then told you I expected it would–
Baker’s declining, Hardin’s taking the track, and so on.

If Hardin and I stood precisely equal, if neither of us had been
to Congress, or if we both had, it would only accord with what I
have always done, for the sake of peace, to give way to him; and
I expect I should do it. That I can voluntarily postpone my
pretensions, when they are no more than equal to those to which
they are postponed, you have yourself seen. But to yield to
Hardin under present circumstances seems to me as nothing else
than yielding to one who would gladly sacrifice me altogether.
This I would rather not submit to. That Hardin is talented,
energetic, usually generous and magnanimous, I have before this
affirmed to you and do not deny. You know that my only argument
is that “turn about is fair play.” This he, practically at least,

If it would not be taxing you too much, I wish you would write
me, telling the aspect of things in your country, or rather your
district; and also, send the names of some of your Whig
neighbors, to whom I might, with propriety, write. Unless I can
get some one to do this, Hardin, with his old franking list, will
have the advantage of me. My reliance for a fair shake (and I
want nothing more) in your country is chiefly on you, because of
your position and standing, and because I am acquainted with so
few others. Let me hear from you soon.

Yours truly,



SPRINGFIELD, Jan. 15, 1846.



Nathan Dresser is here, and speaks as though the contest between
Hardin and me is to be doubtful in Menard County. I know he is
candid and this alarms me some. I asked him to tell me the names
of the men that were going strong for Hardin, he said Morris was
about as strong as any-now tell me, is Morris going it openly?
You remember you wrote me that he would be neutral. Nathan also
said that some man, whom he could not remember, had said lately
that Menard County was going to decide the contest and that made
thL, contest very doubtful. Do you know who that was? Don’t
fail to write me instantly on receiving this, telling me all-
particularly the names of those who are going strong against me.

Yours as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, January 21, 1846.

DEAR SIR:–You perhaps know that General Hardin and I have a
contest for the Whig nomination for Congress for this district.

He has had a turn and my argument is “turn about is fair play.”

I shall be pleased if this strikes you as a sufficient

Yours truly,



SPRINGFIELD, April 26, 1846.

DEAR SIR:–I thank you for the promptness with which you answered
my letter from Bloomington. I also thank you for the frankness
with which you comment upon a certain part of my letter; because
that comment affords me an opportunity of trying to express
myself better than I did before, seeing, as I do, that in that
part of my letter, you have not understood me as I intended to be

In speaking of the “dissatisfaction” of men who yet mean to do no
wrong, etc., I mean no special application of what I said to the
Whigs of Morgan, or of Morgan & Scott. I only had in my mind the
fact that previous to General Hardin’s withdrawal some of his
friends and some of mine had become a little warm; and I felt,
and meant to say, that for them now to meet face to face and
converse together was the best way to efface any remnant of
unpleasant feeling, if any such existed.

I did not suppose that General Hardin’s friends were in any
greater need of having their feelings corrected than mine were.
Since I saw you at Jacksonville, I have had no more suspicion of
the Whigs of Morgan than of those of any other part of the
district. I write this only to try to remove any impression that
I distrust you and the other Whigs of your country.

Yours truly,



SPRINGFIELD, May 7, 1866.

DEAR SIR:–It is a matter of high moral obligation, if not of
necessity, for me to attend the Coles and Edwards courts. I have
some cases in both of them, in which the parties have my promise,
and are depending upon me. The court commences in Coles on the
second Monday, and in Edgar on the third. Your court in Morgan
commences on the fourth Monday; and it is my purpose to be with
you then, and make a speech. I mention the Coles and Edgar
courts in order that if I should not reach Jacksonville at the
time named you may understand the reason why. I do not, however,
think there is much danger of my being detained; as I shall go
with a purpose not to be, and consequently shall engage in no new
cases that might delay me.

Yours truly,



[In December, 1847, when Lincoln was stumping for Clay, he
crossed into Indiana and revisited his old home. He writes:
“That part of the country is within itself as unpoetical as any
spot on earth; but still seeing it and its objects and
inhabitants aroused feelings in me which were certainly poetry;
though whether my expression of these feelings is poetry, is
quite another question.”]

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 tell
How naught from death could save,
Till 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.


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.

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 strains
Are like, forever mute.

Now fare thee well! 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?



SPRINGFIELD, October 22, 1846.

DEAR SPEED:–You, no doubt, assign the suspension of our
correspondence to the true philosophic cause; though it must be
confessed by both of us that this is rather a cold reason for
allowing a friendship such as ours to die out by degrees. I
propose 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

We have another boy, born the 10th 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 plainly 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,



October 21, 1847.


GENTLEMEN:–Your second letter on the matter of Thornton and
others, came to hand this morning. I went at once to see Logan,
and found that he is not engaged against you, and that he has so
sent you word by Mr. Butterfield, as he says. He says that some
time ago, a young man (who he knows not) came to him, with a copy
of the affidavit, to engage him to aid in getting the Governor to
grant the warrant; and that he, Logan, told the man, that in his
opinion, the affidavit was clearly insufficient, upon which the
young man left, without making any engagement with him. If the
Governor shall arrive before I leave, Logan and I will both
attend to the matter, and he will attend to it, if he does not
come till after I leave; all upon the condition that the Governor
shall not have acted upon the matter, before his arrival here. I
mention this condition because, I learned this morning from the
Secretary of State, that he is forwarding to the Governor, at
Palestine, all papers he receives in the case, as fast as he
receives them. Among the papers forwarded will be your letter to
the Governor or Secretary of, I believe, the same date and about
the same contents of your last letter to me; so that the Governor
will, at all events have your points and authorities. The case
is a clear one on our side; but whether the Governor will view it
so is another thing.

Yours as ever,



WASHINGTON, December 5, 1847.

DEAR WILLIAM:–You may remember that about a year ago a man by
the name of Wilson (James Wilson, I think) paid us twenty dollars
as an advance fee to attend to a case in the Supreme Court for
him, against a Mr. Campbell, the record of which case was in the
hands of Mr. Dixon of St. Louis, who never furnished it to us.
When I was at Bloomington last fall I met a friend of Wilson, who
mentioned the subject to me, and induced me to write to Wilson,
telling him I would leave the ten dollars with you which had been
left with me to pay for making abstracts in the case, so that the
case may go on this winter; but I came away, and forgot to do it.
What I want now is to send you the money, to be used accordingly,
if any one comes on to start the case, or to be retained by you
if no one does.

There is nothing of consequence new here. Congress is to
organize to-morrow. Last night we held a Whig caucus for the
House, and nominated Winthrop of Massachusetts for speaker,
Sargent of Pennsylvania for sergeant-at-arms, Homer of New Jersey
door-keeper, and McCormick of District of Columbia postmaster.
The Whig majority in the House is so small that, together with
some little dissatisfaction, [it] leaves it doubtful whether we
will elect them all.

This paper is too thick to fold, which is the reason I send only
a half-sheet.

Yours as ever,


WASHINGTON, December 13, 1847

DEAR WILLIAM:–Your letter, advising me of the receipt of our fee
in the bank case, is just received, and I don’t expect to hear
another as good a piece of news from Springfield while I am away.
I am under no obligations to the bank; and I therefore wish you
to buy bank certificates, and pay my debt there, so as to pay it
with the least money possible. I would as soon you should buy
them of Mr. Ridgely, or any other person at the bank, as of any
one else, provided you can get them as cheaply. I suppose, after
the bank debt shall be paid, there will be some money left, out
of which I would like to have you pay Lavely and Stout twenty
dollars, and Priest and somebody (oil-makers) ten dollars, for
materials got for house-painting. If there shall still be any
left, keep it till you see or hear from me.

I shall begin sending documents so soon as I can get them. I
wrote you yesterday about a “Congressional Globe.” As you are all
so anxious for me to distinguish myself, I have concluded to do
so before long.

Yours truly,



Whereas, The President of the United States, in his message of
May 11, 1846, has declared that “the Mexican Government not only
refused to receive him [the envoy of the United States], or to
listen to his propositions, but, after a long-continued series of
menaces, has at last invaded our territory and shed the blood of
our fellow-citizens on our own soil”;

And again, in his message of December 8, 1846, that “we had ample
cause of war against Mexico long before the breaking out of
hostilities; but even then we forbore to take redress into our
own hands until Mexico herself became the aggressor, by invading
our soil in hostile array, and shedding the blood of our

And yet again, in his message of December 7, 1847, that “the
Mexican Government refused even to hear the terms of adjustment
which he [our minister of peace] was authorized to propose, and
finally, under wholly unjustifiable pretexts, involved the two
countries in war, by invading the territory of the State of
Texas, striking the first blow, and shedding the blood of our
citizens on our own soil”;

And whereas, This House is desirous to obtain a full knowledge of
all the facts which go to establish whether the particular spot
on which the blood of our citizens was so shed was or was not at
that time our own soil: therefore,

Resolved, By the House of Representatives, that the President of
the United States be respectfully requested to inform this House:

First. Whether the spot on which the blood of our citizens was
shed, as in his message declared, was or was not within the
territory of Spain, at least after the treaty of 1819, until the
Mexican revolution.

Second. Whether that spot is or is not within the territory
which was wrested from Spain by the revolutionary government of

«- 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 -»