Abraham Lincoln to the Editors of the Illinois Journal, 5 June 18501SPRINGFIELD, June 5, 1850.Editors of the Illinois Journal:Gentlemen—
An article in the Tazewell Mirror in which my name is prominently used, makes me fear that my position, with reference to the next Congressional election in this District, is misunderstood, and that such misunderstanding may work injury to the cause of our friends.2 I therefore take occasion to say that I neither seek, expect, or desire a nomination for a seat in the next Congress; that I prefer my name should not be brought forward in that connection; and that I would now peremptorily forbid the use of it, could I feel entirely at liberty to do so. I will add, that in my opinion, the whigs of the district have several other men, any one of whom they can elect, and that too quite as easily as they could elect me. I therefore shall be obliged, if any such as may entertain a preference for me, will, at once turn their attention to making a choice from others. Let a Convention be held at a suitable time, and in good feeling, make a nomination; and I venture the prediction we will show the District once more rightside up.3Your obd’t[obedient] servant,A. LINCOLN.
1This letter is attributed to Abraham Lincoln, but the original letter in Lincoln’s hand is not extant. This printed transcription of Lincoln’s letter appeared in the June 12, 1850, edition of the Illinois Journal, and was preceded by an introduction which noted that an article had appeared in the Tazewell County Mirror recommending Lincoln as the Whig candidate for the Seventh Congressional District in the upcoming congressional election of 1850.
Illinois Journal (Springfield), 12 June 1850, 2:1.
2By “friends” Lincoln meant his fellow Illinois Whigs.
3Ultimately, Lincoln did not run for Congress in 1850. Instead, at a district convention held at Pekin, Illinois, on August 5, 1850, the Whig Party nominated Richard Yates as its congressional candidate for Illinois’ Seventh Congressional District. Yates won a narrow victory over the Democratic incumbent, Thomas L. Harris, by leveraging opposition to the Compromise of 1850 to his political advantage. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1851 until 1855.
Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 2 August 1850, 2:2; 7 August 1850, 2:1; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 8-9; Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1996 (Alexandria, VA: CQ Staff Directories, 1997), 2099; Michael F. Holt, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 566-67.
Printed Transcription, 1 page(s), Illinois Journal (Springfield), 12 June 1850, 2:1.