Edward D. Baker to William Butler, 26 January 1839 1Vandalia, Jany 26. 1839Wm Butler EsqSir,
Yours of the 22nd is duly received—2 Are you not ashamed of writing such a letter as that? If you believe the charges you make to be true, I say most flatly you are a fool— If you do not believe them, I do not see the necessity of your making them; they are not the sort of jokes that I Incline tamely to take— This is a short letter, but it is longer than one having so little truth, or reason or justice as yours, deserves as an answer—3Yours with all proper respectE D Baker
<Page 2>Wm Butler Esq[Esquire]SpringfieldIllinois
E. D. Bakers Letter from Vandalia
1Abraham Lincoln dated and wrote the body of the letter. Baker addressed it, wrote the salutation and closing, and signed it. Butler also penned the address on the reverse side.
3Butler’s letter was precipitated by the House of Representatives passing a bill dividing part of Sangamon County into three counties. Lincoln and Baker opposed division of Sangamon County, but as the first session of the Eleventh General Assembly proceeded, some division appeared inevitable. The general consensus was to divide the county into four equal counties, substantially decreasing the size of Sangamon and isolating it in the corner of one of the new counties. Using his position on the Committee on Counties, Lincoln hoped to divide the county in such a manner that Sangamon would not be disadvantaged. On January 16, 1839, Lincoln introduced a bill dividing Sangamon into three counties. The House passed the bill on January 21, creating the three small counties of Logan, Dane, and Menard, and leaving Sangamon relatively large. Butler accused Lincoln and Baker of kowtowing to land speculators. Lincoln’s response to Butler was much more conciliatory than Baker’s.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 145; Abraham Lincoln to William Butler; Abraham Lincoln to William Butler.
Handwritten Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Lincoln Collection, Chicago Historical Society (Chicago, IL).