Abraham Lincoln to John T. Stuart, 5 February 18411Springfield: Feb: 5th 1841Dear Stuart:
Some of us here have concluded, that if it be agreeable, Bat Webb shall be our District attorney— He would accept the place; but will not enter into a scramble for it— We here, or at least I, know of no other applicant— I will add, that I really have my heart set upon Webb's appointment to this place; and that I believe the whole party would be gratified with it—2
What the Locos will do about the congressional election no man can tell—3 I heard Herndon say on yesterday, that he was in favour of taking Jersey, Green, Scott, Morgan, Cass, Menard, Sangamon, Logan and Tazewell, from your District & adding them to Reynolds, and leaving all else in statu quo Something like this I think more probable than the District system; because our opponents are somewhat afraid of the latter themselves—4As ever your friendA. Lincoln
<Page 2>SPRINGFIELD IL.
fHon: J. T. StuartWashington CityD.C.
2Lincoln would be disappointed: Webb would not receive the appointment. David B. Campbell was the prosecuting attorney from 1839 until his death in 1855.
Rufus R. Wilson, Uncollected Works of Abraham Lincoln (Elmira, NY: Primavera, 1948), 2:45; History of Sangamon County, Illinois (Chicago: Inter-State, 1881), 283.
3Presumbly Lincoln was referring to the 1840 congressional election, which was to occur on August 2, 1841.
4In February 1831, the General Assembly divided the state into three congressional districts. Sangamon, Greene, Morgan, and Tazewell, along with eighteen other countries, composed the third district, which John T. Stuart represented in Congress from 1839 to 1843. John Reynolds represented the first district which, when first created, included sixteen counties. Legislation in 1837 and 1839 creating the counties of Cass, Jersey, Scott, Logan, and Menard required voters in those areas to vote with the counties from which they had been drawn until the next state apportionment, effectively placing them in the third congressional district. In March 1843, the General Assembly further expanded the district system by dividing the state into seven congressional districts. Jersey and Greene became part of the fifth district, and Cass, Logan, Menard, Morgan, Sangamon, Scott, and Tazewell part of the seventh. As Lincoln indicated, some Democrats opposed the district system, believing that at large voting would strengthen party discipline and unity. The new district system did not hurt the Democrats in the 1842 congressional election, as they won six of the seven seats. Sangamon County and the seventh district remained a Whig stronghold, with John J. Hardin succeeding Stuart.
“An Act to Lay Out the State into Districts, for the Purpose of Electing Representatives to the Congress of the United States,” 15 February 1831, Revised Laws of Illinois (1833), 235; An Act to Create and Establish the County of Jersey; An Act to Create and Organize the County of Scott; An Act for the Formation of the County of Cass; An Act to Establish the Counties of Menard, Logan, and Dane; “An Act to Establish Seven Congressional Districts,” 1 March 1843, Laws of Illinois (1843), 71-72; Theodore C. Pease, The Frontier State, 1818-1848, The Centennial History of Illinois (Chicago: A. C. McClurg, 1919), 2:293; 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), 135-41; History of Sangamon County, Illinois, 278.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Gilder Lehrman Collection (New York, New York)