Abraham Lincoln to Martin S. Morris, 26 March 18431Springfield March 26th 1843Friend Morris
Your letter of the 23rd was received on yesterday morning, and for which (instead of an excuse which you thought proper to ask) I tender you my sincere thanks,2 It is truly gratifying to me to learn that while the people of Sangamon have cast me off, my old friends of Menard who have known me longest and best of any, still retain there confidence in me, It would astonish if not amuse, the older citizens of your County who twelve years ago knew me a strange, friendliss, uneducated, pennyless boy, working on a flat boat– at ten dollars pr[per] month to learn that I have been put down here as the candidate of pride, wealth, and arristocratic ^family^ distinction,3 Yet so chiefly it was, There was too the strangest combination of church influence against me. Baker is a Campbellite, and therefore as I supose, with few acceptions got all that church, My wife has some relatives in the Presbyterian and some in the Episcopal Churches, and therefore, whereever it would tell, I was set down as
<Page 2>ether the one or the other, whilst it was every where contended that no chistian ought to go for me, because I belonged to no church, was suspected of being a deist, and had talked about fighting a duel, with all these things Baker, of course had nothing to do, Nor do I complain of them–4 As to his own church going for him. I think that was right enough, and as to the influences I have spoken of in the other. though they were very strong, it would be grossly untrue and unjust to charge that they acted upon them in a body or even very nearly so– I only mean that those influences levied a tax of a considerable pr cent upon my strength throughout the religious comunity.
But enough of this– you say that in choosing a candidate for Congress you have an equal right with Sangamon, and in this you are undoubtedly corect, In agreeing to withdraw if the whigs of Sangamon should go against me I did not mean that they alone were worth consulting; but that if she with her heavy deligation should be against me, it would be impossible for me to Succeed—and therefore I had as well decline. And in relation to Menard having rights. permit me to fully recognize them– and to express the opinion that if she and Mason act circumspetly they will in the convention be able so far to inforce there rights as to dicede absolutely which one of the candidates shall be successful, Let me show you the reason of this– Hardin or some other Morgan Candidate will get Morgan, Scott. & Cass– 14[.] Baker has Sangamon already, and he or he and some else not the Morgan man will get Putnam, Marshall,Yours as everA. Lincoln
<Page 3>Woodford, Tazwell & Logan– which with Sangamon makes 16[.] Then you & Mason having three, can give the victory to either man– you say you shall instruct your delegates to go for me unless I object– I certainly shall not object, That would be too pleasant a compliment for me to tread in the dust– And besides if any thing should hapen (which however is not probable) by which Baker should be thrown out of the fight, I would be at liberty to accept the nomination if I could get it, I do however feell myself bound not to hinder him in any way from getting the nomination–5 I should dispise myself were I to attempt it– I think it would be proper for your meeting to appoint there delegates, and instruct them to go for some one as first choice, some one else as second choice, and perhaps some one as third– and if in those instructions I were named as the first choice, it would gratify me very much. If you wish to hold the ballance of power it is important for you to attend too, and secure the vote of Mason also– you should be sure to have men appointed delegates, that you know you can safely confide in. If yourself & James Short. were appointed for your County all would be safe But whether Jims woman afair a year ago might not be in the way of his appointment is a question, I dont know ^whether you know it^ it, but I know him to be as honorable a man as there is in the world– you have my permission and even request to show this letter to Short; but to no one else unless it be a very particular friend who you know will not speak of it
<Page 4>P. S. will you write me again? A. L.
1The only version of this letter that is known is a handwritten transcription sent by Martin S. Morris to William H. Herndon on January 12, 1867. It is in Morris’ handwriting, and should not be considered an exact copy of the original.
Abraham Lincoln to Martin S. Morris, 26 March 1843, Abraham Lincoln Association Files, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).
3Lincoln was vying against Edward D. Baker for the Whig nomination to represent the Seventh Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. In their attacks on Lincoln, Baker’s friends used Lincoln’s marriage to Mary Todd, who came from a distinguished family, to label him as an aristocrat. These claims cost Lincoln the nomination.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:197; Barry Schwartz, Abraham Lincoln and the Forge of National Memory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 149, 151; William H. Herndon and Jesse Weik, Abraham Lincoln: The True Story of a Great Life (New York: D. Appleton, 1900), 1:252-55.
4Lincoln did not regularly attend church before his marriage. After their marriage, the Lincolns sporadically attended the Episcopal church. In 1850, when Mary became a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Abraham attended and even rented a family pew, but never became a member of the church himself.
Richard J. Carwardine, Lincoln (Harlow, UK: Pearson, 2003), 33-34.
5In the winter of 1842-43, Lincoln sought nomination to run as a Whig for the congressional seat in the Seventh District. Edward D. Baker, however, got the endorsement of the Sangamon County Whigs. At the district convention in May, John J. Hardin would defeat Baker for the nomination.
Illinois Register (Springfield), 17 March 1843, 1:6; 24 March 1843, 2:4; Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 6 April 1843, 2:4; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:215-18.
Handwritten Transcription, 4 page(s), Volume Volume 19,
pages 2942-2943 (roll 9, frames 1370-1373), Herndon-Weik Collection of Lincolniana, Library of Congress (Washington, DC), .