Abraham Lincoln to William H. Herndon, 10 July 1848.1
Dear William:
Your letter covering the newspaper slips, was received last night–2 The subject of that letter is exceedingly painful to me; and I cannot but think there is some mistake in your impression of the motives of the old men– I suppose I am now one of the old men– and I declare on my veracity, which I think is good with you, that nothing could afford me more satisfaction than to learn that you and others of my young friends at home, were doing battle in this contest, and endearing themselves to the people, and taking a stand far above any I have ever been able to reach, in their admiration– I can not conceive that other old meen feel differently– Of course I can not demonstrate what I say; but I was young once, and I am sure I was never ungenerously thrust back– I hardly know what to say– The way for a young man to rise, is to improve himself every way he can, never suspecting that any body wishes to hinder him– Allow me to assure you, that suspicion and jealousy never did help any man in any situation– There may sometimes be ungenerous attempts to keep a young man down; and they will succeed
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too, if he allows his mind to be diverted from its true channel to brood over the attempted injury– Cast about, and see if this feeling has not injured every person you3 have ever known to fall into it.
Now, in what I have said, I am sure you will suspect nothing but sincere friendship– I would save you from a fatal error– You have been a laborious, studious young man– You are far better informed on almost all subjects than I have ever been– You can not fail in any laudable object, unless you allow your mind to be improperly directed– I have some the advantage of you in the world’s experience, merely by being older; and it is this that induces me to advise.
You still seem to be a little mistaken about the Congressional Globe and Appendix– They contain all of the speeches that are published in any way– My speech, and Dayton's speech, which you say you got in pamphlet form, are both, word for word, in the Appendix–4 I repeat again all are there–5
Your friend, as everA. Lincoln
1The original letter in Abraham Lincoln’s hand has not been located. Another version preserves only the first page, the second page from the Herndon-Weik Collection version being in fact the conclusion of a letter from Lincoln to William H. Herndon, June 22, 1848.
Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 1:498.
2Herndon’s letter to Lincoln has not been located. Herndon’s letter might have been in response to Lincoln’s letter of June 22, 1848, in which Lincoln urged Herndon and other young Whigs to mobilize in support of Zachary Taylor in the presidential election of 1848, and expressed impatience and exasperation with Herndon for failing to get his speeches in Whig newspapers in the Seventh Congressional District.
3“you” written over “h”.
4Lincoln references William L. Dayton’s speech on the Mexican War delivered in the U.S. Senate on January 27 and 28, 1847, and his speech on the war delivered in the U.S. House of Representatives on January 12, 1848.
Speech of Wm. L. Dayton, of N. Jersey, on the Mexican War, the Plans and Conduct of the Campaign Delivered in the Senate of the United States, Jan. 27 and 28, 1847 (Washington, DC: J & G. S. Gideon, [1847]); Speech in United States House of Representatives: The War with Mexico; Speech in United States House of Representatives: The War with Mexico; Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., 154-56 (1848); Cong. Globe, 30th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 93-95 (1848); Cong. Globe, 29th Cong., 2nd Sess., Appendix, 269-70, 276 (1847).
5Lincoln wrote Herndon another letter on July 11 expressing regret for penning this letter.

Handwritten Transcription, 3 page(s), Lamon Collection (LN 2408), 3:444-45, Huntington Library (San Marino, CA).