Jesse W. Fell to Abraham Lincoln, 21 July 18381Bloomington July 21st 1838Dr Sir
I wrote you a few days since a L few lines in relation to Stuart—the Charges prefered against him about a government Bank—his coming into this County before the election &c[etc] which you have doubtless recd[received]—2 Do me the favor to reply to it per [bearer?] Mr B. F. Wood of this place—to whom permit me to introduce you,— Mr Wood is a fast friend of Stuarts, and can let you know all about election matters in McLean,— We’ll do our duty—depend on it—In great haste
Your Obt[Obedient] Sevt[Servant]J. W. FellA. Lincoln Esqr[Esquire]
Yours on the reverse side of this sheet is this moment received. Owing to my absence, the former letter of which you speak was not received until saturday evening— I answered it yesterday, and doubtless you will have received the answer ere you receive this.3 I again repeat that you may deny the charges made by Douglass against Stuart in in relation to a government Bank.4 I hope Stuart will pay you the much desired visit; he is, however, doing well, we are told, where he is— If we do our duty we shall succeed in the congressional election; but if we relax an iota, we shall be beaten—5Your friend A Lincoln
A. Lincoln EsqrSpringfield Illinois
Letter from A. Lincoln in July 1838 about Congressional contest with ^between^ Judge Douglass & Stewart. John T.
Very early letter so says E. M. Prince.
1Abraham Lincoln wrote text of the endorsement and signed his name on the reverse side of Jesse W. Fell’s letter.
2Fell’s letter has not been located.
4In the spring and summer of 1838, Stephen A. Douglas and John T. Stuart contested the U.S. House of Representatives seat for the Third District of Illinois. Douglas and Democratic newspapers claimed that Stuart pledged, in a speech on July 3, to replace the Independent Sub-Treasury System with a bank without a charter or stockholders, owned solely by the federal and state governments. Whig papers denied this charge, arguing that Stuart had suggested one plan for a national bank similar to that introduced by Henry Clay in the Senate, but had endorsed no specific proposal.
Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 14 July 1838, 2:1; Robert W. Johannsen, Stephen A. Douglas (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973), 66-67.
5Relations between Douglas and Stuart were cordial at the beginning of the campaign, the candidates traveling together across the district, debating the issues by day and sharing accommodations in the evening. As the race drew closer, relations between the two soured and the speeches became more personal, culminating late in the campaign in an impromptu scuffle between the two as they debated the issues in Springfield.
When the ballots were finally tallied, Stuart defeated Douglas by a scant 36 votes (18,254 for Stuart to 18,218 for Douglas). McLean County went for Stuart, 721 to 536. The closeness of the vote and accusations of voter irregularities prompted Douglas to contest the election, to no avail.
Erika Holst, “Political Mudslinging in Springfield,” Illinois Times, 6 November 2014, http://illinoistimes.com/article-14659-political-mudslinging-in-springfield.html; Robert W. Johannsen, Stephen A. Douglas, 64-68, 70-72; Theodore C. Pease, ed., Illinois Election Returns, 1818-1848, vol. 18 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1923), 109.
Autograph Letter Signed, 3 page(s), Jesse W. Fell Papers, Box 2 (not filmed), Manuscript Division, Library of Congress [Washington, DC].