Abraham Lincoln to Mary S. Owens, 13 December 18361Vandalia, Decr 13. 1836Mary
I have been sick ever since my arrival here, or I should have written sooner. It is but little difference, however, as I have verry little even yet to write. And more, the longer I can avoid the mortification of looking in the Post Office for your letter and not finding it, the better. You see I am mad about that old letter yet. I dont like verry well to risk you again. T I,ll try you once more any how.2
The new State House is not yet finished, and consequently the legislature is doing little or nothing.3 The Governor delivered an inflamitory political Message, and it is expected there will be some sparring between the parties about it as soon as the two Houses get to business.4 Taylor delivered up his petitions for the New County to one of our members this morning. I am told that he dispairs of it’s success on account of all the members from Morgan county opposing it. There are names enough on the petition I think to justify the members from our county in going for it; but if the members from Morgan oppose it, which they say they will, the chance will be bad.5
Our chance to take the seat of Government to Springfield is better than I expected. An Internal Improvement Convention was held here since we met, which recommended a loan of several mill[ions] of dollars on the faith of the State to construct Rail Roads. Some of the legislature are for it and some against it; which has the majority I canYour friendLincolnMiss Mary S. Owens
<Page 2>not tell.6 There is great strife and struggling for the office of U.S. Senator here at this time It is probable we shall ease their pains in a few days. The opposition men have no candidate of their own, and consequently they smile as complacently at the angry snarls of the contending Van Buren candidates and their respective friends, as the Christain does at Satan's rage. 7 You recollect I mentioned in the outset of this letter that I had been unwell. That is the fact, though I belive I am about well now; but that, with other things I can not account for, have conspired and have gotten my spirits so low, that I feel that I would rather be any place in the world than here. I really can not endure the thought of staying here ten weeks. Write back as soon as you get this, and if possible say something that will please me, for really I have not [been] pleased since I left you. This letter is so dry and stupid that I am ashamed to send it, but with my present feelings I can not do any better: Give my respects to Mr & Mrs Abell and family.
2Abraham Lincoln met Mary Owens in 1833, when Mary spent time in New Salem. She returned to New Salem from 1836 to 1838, where she was once again acquainted with Lincoln. Lincoln wrote Mary at least three times, and he later described the nature of their relationship in a letter to his friend Eliza Browning.
3The Tenth General Assembly convened in Vandalia on December 5, 1836. The new building, which became the third capitol building in Vandalia, was completed later that month.
Paul E. Stroble, “The Vandalia Statehouse and the Relocation to Springfield,” Illinois Heritage 2 (Spring-Summer, 2000), 15.
4Democratic members of the legislature took offense at the Whig governor’s statements about President Andrew Jackson.
5In 1836, there may have been petitions filed, but there was no bill for the formation of Menard County. In 1839, the legislature created Menard County by carving it out of Sangamon County.
6The legislature passed a general Internal Improvement act in February 1837. The act pledged the full faith of the state for the payment of all loans contracted under it, including those for the construction of railroads.
7The day after Lincoln wrote this letter, the legislature elected Democrat Richard M. Young as Illinois’ next U.S. Senator. Lincoln voted for Archibald Williams, a Whig.
Illinois House Journal (1836), 10th G.A., 1st sess., 50-51.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Private Collection, Mary King (Livermore, CO) (2011).