Abraham Lincoln to Hugh Lamaster, 29 November 18541Springfield, Novr 29. 1854Hugh Lamaster, Esq[Esquire]My dear Sir:
I have got it into my head to try to be U.S. Senator; and I wish somehow to get at your whig member, Mr Babcock– I am not acquainted with him– Could you not make, or cause to be made, a mark with him for me? Would not Judge Kellogg lend a helping hand? J. P. Boice, I venture to hope, would be willing to give a lift–2 Please write me at all events;3 and let this be confidential, so far as practicable–Yours as everA. Lincoln–
2Lincoln wrote similar letters to other political allies in November and December of 1854.
Passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and its effective repeal of the Missouri Compromise reawakened Lincoln’s passion for politics, and he threw himself into the congressional election campaign in the fall of 1854, crisscrossing Illinois to deliver speeches against the Kansas-Nebraska Act and in support of anti-Nebraska candidates. He even allowed himself to become a candidate for the Illinois General Assembly (albeit reluctantly at first). As the election campaign reached its climax, Lincoln’s name began to circulate as a possible nominee for one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats.
Lincoln won election to the Illinois General Assembly, but, in late-November 1854, declined to serve in order to run for the U.S. Senate. Ultimately, Lincoln did not win election to the U.S. Senate; the Illinois General Assembly selected anti-Nebraska Democrat Lyman Trumbull instead. See the 1854 Federal Election.
Abraham Lincoln to Charles Hoyt; Abraham Lincoln to J. Young Scammon; Abraham Lincoln to Joseph Gillespie; Abraham Lincoln to Horace W. Fay; David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1995), 167-73; Autobiography of Abraham Lincoln Written for John L. Scripps; William H. Randolph to Abraham Lincoln; Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 10 November 1854, 2:5; Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55.
3Hugh Lamaster responded to this letter on December 11, 1854, stating that the prominent Whigs he had spoken to would support Lincoln in the event that an election was held for senator. Lamaster added that while he had not seen William Kellogg or Amos C. Babcock, Kellogg had previously expressed his support for Lincoln, and newly-elected Whig representative Babcock was politically inexperienced but would soon learn his duty.
When the Illinois General Assembly met on February 8, 1855, to vote on the state’s next U.S. Senator, William Kellogg was himself nominated as a candidate in the first round of voting. The sole vote he received was from Babcock and he did not appear as a candidate in subsequent rounds of voting. Babcock switched his vote to Lincoln for votes two through five, supported Orville H. Browning in round six of voting, then once again supported Lincoln in rounds seven and eight. In the final two rounds of voting, Babcock supported the ultimate victor, Trumbull.
Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55.
Copy of Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Association Files, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).