Abraham Lincoln to Joshua F. Speed, 25 February 18421Springfield, Feby 25— 1842— Dear Speed:2
Yours of the 16th Inst announcing that Miss Fanny and you "are no more twain, but one flesh," reached me this morning—3 I have no way of telling how much happiness I wish you both; tho,,[though] I believe you both can conceive it— I feel somwhat jealous of both of you now; you will be so exclusively concerned for one another, that I shall be forgotten entirely— My acquaintance with Miss Fanny (I call her thus, lest you should think I am speaking of your mother)4 was too short for me to reasonably hope to long be remembered by her; and still, I am sure, I shall not forget her soon—5 Try if you can not remind her of that debt she owes me; and be sure you do not interfere to prevent her paying it—6
I regret to learn that you have resolved to not return to Illinois— I shall be verry lonesome without you— How miserably things seem to be arranged in this world— If we have no friends, we have no pleasure; and if we have them, we are sure to lose them, and be doubly pained by the loss— I did hope she and you would make your home here; but I own I have no right to insist— You owe ob-
<Page 2>ligations to her, ten thousand times more sacred than any you can owe to others; and, in that light, let them be respected and observed— It is natural that she should desire to remain with her relatives and friends— As to friends, however, she could not need them any where; she would have them in abundance here—
Give my kind remembrance to Mr Williamson and his family, particularly Miss Elizabeth—7 Also to your Mother, brothers, and sisters— Ask little Eliza Davis if she will ride to town with me if I come there again—8
And, finally, give Fanny a double reciprocation of all the love she sent me— Write me often, and believe me. yoursYours foreverLincolnP. S. Poor Eastham is gone at last— He died a while before day this morning— They say he was verry loth to die—
No clerk is appointed yet— L.
<Page 4>SPRINGFIELD Il.
FEB[February] 26Mr J. F. SpeedLouisvilleKentucky
Feb 25, 42
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter. He also authored the address on the last page, which was folded to create an envelope. A private letter to Speed was also enclosed with this letter.
2Sometime in 1840, Lincoln began courting Mary Todd, and the two broke up subsequently. Historians, and indeed onlookers at the time, have disagreed about the underlying cause, but suffice it to say that the breakup pushed Lincoln into a deep depression. Compounding this, in April, his close friend Joshua Speed moved home to Louisville, Kentucky, where he soon began courting Fanny Henning, who he married in February 1842. Sometime in 1842, Lincoln and Mary Todd renewed their courtship. From January 1842 until his own marriage in November 1842, Lincoln exchanged many letters with Speed mutually consoling and reassuring each other on the matter of their respective romances.
See Abraham Lincoln to Joshua F. Speed, Abraham Lincoln to Joshua F. Speed, Abraham Lincoln to Joshua F. Speed, Abraham Lincoln to Joshua F. Speed, Abraham Lincoln to Joshua F. Speed, Abraham Lincoln to Joshua F. Speed, Abraham Lincoln to Joshua F. Speed; Jean H. Baker, Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1987), 85-86, 89-91, 93, 97; Interview of Ninian W. Edwards, 22 September 1865; Joshua F. Speed to William H. Herndon, 30 November 1866; Interview with Joshua F. Speed, , Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis, eds., Herndon’s Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements about Abraham Lincoln (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998), 133, 430-31, 477.
4As a married woman, Fanny would typically have been referred to as “Mrs. Speed,” an honorific shared by her mother-in-law, with whom Lincoln was also close.
5In August and September of 1841, Lincoln spent several weeks with Speed at his family’s plantation called Farmington near Louisville. Speed and Lincoln visited Fanny Henning at least twice during that time.
Abraham Lincoln to Mary Speed; Abraham Lincoln to Joshua F. Speed; Robert L. Kincaid, Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln’s Most Intimate Friend (Harrogate, TN: Lincoln Memorial University, 1943), 15; David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), 86-87.
7This is likely a reference to Fanny’s uncle John Williamson, with whom she had been living when she began her courtship with Speed. Lincoln and Speed visited Williamson’s home at least twice during Lincoln’s stay in Louisville in August-September 1841.
Robert L. Kincaid, Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln's Most Intimate Friend, 16-18, 20-21; Abraham Lincoln to Joshua F. Speed.
8In the The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Roy P. Basler notes this may refer either to Joshua’s niece Susan Fry Speed Davis, or to his own younger sister, Eliza Davis Speed.
Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 1:261, n6.
Autograph Letter Signed, 4 page(s), Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).