Abraham Lincoln to Elihu B. Washburne, 11 December 18541
Hon: E. B. Washburne.My dear Sir:
Your note of the 5th is just received– It is too true that by the official returns Allen beats Col Archer one vote–2 There is a report to-day that there is a mistake in the return from Clay county, giving Allen sixty votes more than he really has; but this, I fear is itself a mistake– I have just examined the returns from that county at the Secretarie’s office, and find that the agregate vote for Sheriff only falls short, by three votes, of the agregate, as reported, of Allen & Archer’s vote– Our friends, however, are hot on the track; and will probe the matter to the bottom–3
As to my own matter, things continue to look reasonably well–4 I wrote your
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friend, George Gage;5 and, three days ago, had an answer from him, in which he talks out plainly as your letter taught me to expect– To-day I had a letter from Turner– He says he is not committed, & will not be until he sees how most effectually to oppose slavery extension–
I have not ventured to write all the members in your district, lest some of them should be offended by the indelicacy of the thing—6 that is, coming from a total stranger– Could you not drop some of them a line?7
Very truly your friend.A. Lincoln
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[ docketing ]
A Lincoln
Dec[December] 11th 1854.8
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this document.
2Democrat James C. Allen received 8,452 votes to Republican William B. Archer’s 8,451 in the race to see who would represent Illinois’ Seventh Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Allen received the certificate of election, but Archer contested the outcome. Congress nullified the results and left the seat vacant until a new election could be held. In August 1856, Allen defeated Archer in a special election.
Newton Bateman and Paul Selby, eds., Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Clark County, ed. by H. C. Bell (Chicago: Middle West, 1907), 22; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 10, 11.
3In Clay County, Allen received 593 votes to 347 for Archer.
Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990, 135.
4Passage 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 unwillingly 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. In November and December 1854, Lincoln wrote confidential letters to his political allies seeking support for his candidacy and information about his prospects.
David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1995), 167-73; William H. Randolph to Abraham Lincoln; Autobiography of Abraham Lincoln Written for John L. Scripps; Abraham Lincoln to Hugh Lamaster; Abraham Lincoln to Joseph Gillespie; Abraham Lincoln to Horace W. Fay.
5Lincoln’s letter to George Gage has not been located.
6Washburne represented Illinois’ First Congressional District in the Thirty-Third U.S. Congress, 1853-1855. District one included the counties of Boone, Carroll, Jo Daviess, Lake, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, and Winnebago.
Louis L. Emmerson, ed., Blue Book of the State of Illinois, 1923-1924 (Springfield: Illinois State Journal, 1923), 642; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990, 134.
7Lincoln and Washburne carried on an extensive correspondence during the senatorial campaign and exchanged numerous letters related to Lincoln’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate.
Lincoln won a seat in the Illinois General Assembly, but declined the seat in late November in order to run for U.S. Senate. Lincoln would be a leading contender when the General Assembly met in joint session on February 8, 1855, to select a U.S. senator, but the General Assembly selected anti-Nebraska Democrat Lyman Trumbull instead. See the 1854 Federal Election. Gage voted for Lincoln in the first eight ballots, but in the ninth round he switched his support to Trumbull. In the first two rounds of voting, Thomas J. Turner cast his vote for Lincoln. Turner cast no votes in the third through the ninth rounds of balloting, however, rejoined the voting in the tenth and final round to cast his ballot for Trumbull. Other senators and representatives from Illinois’ First Congressional District supported Lincoln through the first three ballots, but began switching their votes to Trumbull, Martin P. Sweet, and William B. Odgen before all committing to Trumbull on the final ballot.
8An unknown person wrote this docketing.

Autograph Letter Signed, 4 page(s), Box 4, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).