Abraham Lincoln and Others to Henry Clay, 29 August 18421Springfield, Ills. Aug. 29, 1842.Hon. Henry Clay, Lexington, Ky.Dear Sir:—
We hear you are to visit Indianopolis, Indiana, on the 5th of October next.2 If our information in this is correct, we hope you will not deny us the pleasure of seeing you in our State. We are aware of the toil necessarily incident to a journey by one circumstanced as you are; but once you have embarked, as you have already determined to do, that toil could not be greatly augmented by extending the journey to our Capitol. The season of the year will be most favorable for good roads and pleasant weather: and altogether we cannot but believe you would be highly gratified with such a visit to the prairie land. The pleasure it would give us, and thousands such as we, is beyond all question. You have never visited Illinois, or at least this portion of it; and should you now yield to our request, we promise you such a reception as shall be worthy of the man on whom are now turned the fondest hopes of a great and suffering nation.
Please inform us at the earliest convenience whether we may expect you.3Very respectfully, your ob’t servt’s[obedient servants],
1This letter was printed in the September 23, 1842 edition of the Sangamo Journal. No handwritten version of the letter has been located.
2Clay spent the fall of 1842 making speeches in an early campaign for the 1844 Presidential election. After speaking on September 29 at the Ohio state Whig convention in Dayton, Clay made a series of appearances in Richmond, Indianapolis, and Columbus, Indiana, before returning to Kentucky. He did not extend his visit into Illinois.
David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler, Henry Clay: The Essential American (New York: Random House, 2010), 372-74; Robert V. Remini, Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union (New York: W. W. Norton, 1991), 616-17, 620.
3Clay declined the invitation on September 6, 1842, and the two letters were printed together in the Sangamo Journal on September 23.
4In Roy P. Basler’s, The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, this individual was identified as James M. Allen. However, seems likelier to be John M. Allen, a Springfield resident who was a politically active Whig and later Republican.
Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1954), 1:297.
Printed Letter, 1 page(s), Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 23 September 1842, 2:4.