Abraham Lincoln to William H. Herndon, 8 January 18482Washington, Jany 8. 1848–Dear William:
Your letter of Decr[December] 27th was received a day or two ago–3 I am much obliged to you, for the trouble you have taken, and promise to take, in my little business there– As to speech-making, by way of getting the hang of the House, I made a little speech two or three days ago, on a post-office question of no general interest–4 I find speaking here, and speaking elsewhere, about the same thing– I was about as badly scared, and no worse, as I am when I speak in court– I expect to make one within a week or two, in which I hope to succeed well enough, to wish you to see it–
It is very pleasant to me to learn from you that there are some, who desire that I should be re-elected– I most heartily thank them for their kind partiality; and I can say as Mr Clay said of the annexation of Texas, that "personally I would not object" to a re-election–5 Although I thought at the time, and still think, it would be quite as we well, for me to return to the law at the end of a single term, I made the declarations that I would not be a candidate again, more from a wish to deal fairly with others than from
<Page 2>to keep peace among our friends, and to keep the District from going over to the enemy, than from any cause personal to myself; so that if it should so happen, that no body else wishes to be elected, I could not refuse the people the right of sending me again– But to enter myself as a competitor of others, or to authorize any one so to enter me, is what my word and honor forbid–
I get some letters intimating a probability of so much difficulty amongst our friends as to lose us the District; but I remember such letters were written to Baker when my own case was under consideration; and I trust there is no more ground for such apprehension now, than there was then–6
Remember I am always glad to receive a letter from you–Most truly your friendA. LincolnWm H Herndon
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July 8 48
2Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter. The address in the bottom left hand corner is in Herndon’s hand.
4Lincoln made these remarks on January 5, 1848, while the House of Representatives, sitting as the Committee of the Whole, debated a proposed resolution directing Postmaster General Cave Johnson to renew arrangements with the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad for transporting the mail between Washington, DC and Richmond. Lincoln was a member of the Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads.
Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., 19, 107-8, 108-9 (1847-48).
5Lincoln alludes, in a slight paraphrase, to a remark made by Henry Clay in a letter to Stephen Miller on July 1, 1844, where he gave his views on the annexation question leading up the 1844 presidential election.
Henry Clay to Stephen Miller, 1 July 1844, Melba Porter Hay and Carol Reardon, eds., The Papers of Henry Clay (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1991), 10:79.
6Lincoln represented the Seventh Congressional District, which included the counties of Cass, Logan, Marshall, Mason, Menard, Morgan, Putnam, Sangamon, Scott, Tazewell, and Woodford. He had pledged to serve only one term, but many Whigs in the district favored his renomination. As this letter indicates, Lincoln was not averse to running again, but Stephen T. Logan received the nomination. In August 1848, Logan would lose the normally safe seat for the Whigs to Democrat Thomas L. Harris in a close race.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:271; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 8, 126.
Autograph Letter Signed, 1 page(s), Perkins Collection, Ella Strong Denison Library, Scripps College (Claremont, CA).