Abraham Lincoln to Elihu B. Washburne, 6 [January] 18551
Hon: E. B. Washburne.My dear Sir:
I telegraphed you as to the organization of the two houses–3 T– J. Turner, elected Speaker 40 to 24– House not full– Dr Richmond of Schuyler was his opponent–4 Anti-Nebraska also elected all the other members officers of the H– R– In the Senate, Anti-Nebraska elected George T. Brown, of the Alton Courier, Secretary; and Dr Ray of the Galena Jeffersonian, one of the clerks– In fact they elected all the officers; but some of them were Nebraska men elected over the regular Nebraska nominees, It is said that by this, they get one or two Nebraska Senators to go for bringing on the Senatorial election– I can not vouch for this– As to the Senatorial election I think very little more is known than was before the meeting of the Legislature– Besides the ten or a dozen, on our side, who are willing to be known as candidates, I think there are fifty secretly watching for a chance–5
I do not know that it is much advantage to have the largest number of votes at the
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start—6 If I did know this to be an advantage I should feel better; for I can not doubt but I have more committals than any other one man– Your District comes up tolerably well for me;7 but not unanamously by any oth means– George Gage is for me, as you know,8 J. H. Adams is not committed to ^me^ but I think will be for me– Mr Talcott will not be for me as a first choice– Dr Little and Mr Sargent are openly for me– Prof[Professor] Pinckney is for me, but wishes to be quiet– Dr Whitney writes me that Rev: Mr Laurence will be for me; and his manner to me so indicates; but he has not spoken it out– Mr Swan, I have some slight hopes of–9 Turner says he is not committed; and I shall get him whenever I can make it appear to be his interest to go for me–10 Dr Lyman and old Mr Diggins will never go for me as a first choice–11 M. P. Sweet is here as a candidate; and I understand he claims that he has 22 members committed to him– I think some part of his estimate must be based on insufficient evidence; as I can not well see where they are to be found; and as I can learn the name of one only— Day of LaSalle12 Still, it may be so– There are more than 22 Anti-Nebraska members who are not committed to me–

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Tell Norton that Mr Strunk and Mr Wheeler come out plump for me; and for which I thank him–13 Judge Parks I have decided hopes for; but he says he is not committed–14 I understand myself as having 26 committals; and I do not think any other one man has ten— may be mistaken though– The whole Legislature stands,
Senate A-N. 13 N.12–
H. R. "[Ditto] 44–15 " 31–
57 43
14 nay–
All here, but Kinney, of StClair16
Our special election here is plain enough when understood– Our adversaries pretended to be running no candidate, secretly notified all their men to[to be] on hand; and, favored by a very rainy day got a complete snap judgement on us– In Novr[November] Sangamon gave Yates 2166– ^votes–^ On the rainy day she gave our man only 984— leaving him 82 votes behind– After all, the result is not of the least consequence–17 The Locos kept up a great chattering over it till the organization of the H R. since which they all seem to have forgotten it–
G's letter to L. I think has not been receivedAsk him if he sent it–
Yours as everA. Lincoln18
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[ docketing ]
A. Lincoln
Dec[December] 6th 1854.19
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter.
2Lincoln mistakenly wrote December instead of January.
3Lincoln’s telegram to Elihu B. Washburne has not been located.
4According to the Journal of the Illinois House of Representatives, Thomas J. Turner received 39 votes and John P. Richmond received 26 votes.
Illinois House Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 5.
5Lincoln is referencing the organization of the Nineteenth Illinois General Assembly which convened at Springfield on January 1, 1855 and adjourned February 15, 1855. Lincoln was interested in the composition of the Illinois General Assembly because it would elect the state’s next U.S. senator. 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 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, he wrote confidential letters to political allies, seeking support for his candidacy and information about his prospects.
The state’s voters sent an anti-Nebraska majority to the Illinois General Assembly, which improved Lincoln’s chances in the senatorial election. Lincoln also won a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives, but in late-November 1854, he declined to serve in order to run for the U.S. Senate.
When the General Assembly met in a joint session on February 8, 1855, to elect a U.S. senator, ten rounds of voting were needed to finally determine a victor. Lincoln received a majority of the anti-Nebraska votes until the tenth and final ballot, when he withdrew and urged his supporters to vote for anti-Nebraska Democrat Lyman Trumbull in order to ensure that an anti-Nebraska politician filled the seat. With the votes of Lincoln’s supporters, Trumbull won the seat. See 1854 Federal Election.
Louis L. Emmerson, ed., Blue Book of the State of Illinois, 1923-1924 (Springfield: Illinois State Journal, 1923), 680; 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; Stephen Hansen and Paul Nygard, “Stephen A. Douglas, the Know-Nothings, and the Democratic Party in Illinois, 1854-1858,” Illinois Historical Journal 87 (Summer 1994), 114; Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55; Abraham Lincoln to Joseph Gillespie.
6“;” changed to “—”.
7Washburne represented Illinois’ First Congressional District in the Thirty-Third U. S. House of Representatives. Washburne’s district 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, 642; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 134.
8George Gage wrote to Lincoln on December 4, 1854, pledging his support: “I have strong hopes we shall elect a senator the ensueing session & that you will succede.” Gage voted for Lincoln in the first eight ballots, but in the ninth round he switched his support to Trumbull.
Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55.
9John H. Addams submitted a vote for Lincoln in the first seven rounds of voting. In round eight, he voted for William B. Ogden before switching to Trumbull for the final two rounds. Walt Talcott voted for Lincoln in the first six rounds of votes; he was not listed as voting in the seventh round and switched to Ogden in the eighth round. In the final two rounds of voting, Talcott supported Trumbull. Both Wallace A. Little and Porter Sargent voted for Lincoln in the first seven rounds of voting and Trumbull for the final three rounds. Daniel J. Pinckney and Hurlbut Swan cast their ballots for Lincoln for nine rounds before switching to Trumbull. Luther W. Lawrence started the first three rounds voting for Lincoln, voted for Martin P. Sweet in round four, and then changed his vote to Ogden for rounds five through eight. Lawrence supported Trumbull in the final two rounds of voting.
Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55.
10Turner cast a vote in three of the ten rounds of voting for senator. In rounds one and two, Turner cast his vote for Lincoln, and in the last round he cast a vote for the eventual winner, Trumbull.
Louis L. Emmerson, ed., Blue Book of the State of Illinois, 1923-1924, 680; Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 243-44, 254.
11Lincoln’s prediction did not prove correct. William Lyman submitted his first three votes in favor of Lincoln before casting votes four through ten for Trumbull. Wesley Diggins voted for Lincoln in the first four rounds of voting before casting votes five through eight for Ogden and votes nine and ten for Trumbull.
Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 243-54.
12Sweet did not come close to twenty-two supporters on election day. His name appeared in three rounds only. In round two, Sweet received votes from Frederick S. Day and William Patten. In round three, Sweet received votes from Day, Patten, and Benjamin Hackney. In round four, Sweet’s sole vote came from Lawrence.
Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55.
13Jesse O. Norton wrote to Lincoln on December 12, 1854, with advice on possible supporters including John Strunk and Alanson K. Wheeler. Norton followed up with a letter on December 20. Strunk cast his first six votes for Lincoln before switching his support to Joel A. Matteson for the remaining four rounds. Wheeler cast his first eight votes for Lincoln before switching his support to Trumbull for the remaining two rounds.
Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55.
14Gavion D. A. Parks voted for Lincoln in the first six rounds of voting before switching to Trumbull on the eighth ballot.
Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55.
15“4” written over “3”.
16William C. Kinney appeared on January 16, 1855, presented his credentials, took the oath of office, and took his seat. Kinney cast his first eight votes for Gustave P. Koerner and the remaining two for Matteson.
Illinois House Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 129; Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55.
17A special election was held on December 23, 1854 to fill the vacancy in the Illinois House after Lincoln resigned. Democrat Jonathan McDaniel triumphed over Whig Norman M. Broadwell.
In the congressional elections in November 1854, Richard Yates had sought reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives as Illinois’ Sixth Congressional District representative. The Democrats nominated Thomas L. Harris as his opponent. As Lincoln noted correctly, Sangamon County gave Yates 2,166, or 60.6%, of its votes, but Harris won by 200 votes.
Illinois State Register (Springfield), 6 January 1855, 4:1; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:392; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990, 10, 134.
18In a letter to Lincoln dated December 26, 1854, Washburne assured Lincoln that Joshua R. Giddings was writing Owen Lovejoy with his views on Lincoln’s candidacy to be shared with Free Soilers in the General Assembly. When he learned that Lovejoy had not received Gidding’s letter, Washburne assured Lincoln that Giddings had telegraphed Lovejoy about the letter’s disposition. Lovejoy apparently never received Giddings first letter, prompting Gidding to write Lovejoy a second letter.
19Washburne wrote this docketing.

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