Abraham Lincoln to Lyman Trumbull, 27 June 18561Springfield, June 27. 1856Hon: L. Trumbull.Dear Sir:
Yours of the 15th was received a few days ago– It would have been easier for us here, I think, had we got McLean; but as it is, I am not without high hopes for the state–2 I think we shall elect Bissell, at all events—3 and, if we can get rid of the Filmore ticket, we shall carry the state for Fremont also–4
Yesterday the Buchanan State ratification came off here–5 I do not think it proves much; but it really was a failure– There were not fifty— I think not thirty— persons, from other counties; and of the citizens of Sangamon, there were not more in town than there usually are on saturdays– At night they spoke at the State-House; and they had no greater crowd than could be gathered any night on an hour's notice–6 Great effort had . . . from a distance, an. . . from our ranks– Of th . . . got Charley Constable, John Hogan [from][St]Louis, and no body else–7 Linder, and Singleton, and Webb, and Don Morrison, all missing–8 The od ^old^ democratic speakers were[A. Lincoln]
<Page 2>old uncle Jimmy Barret, Moulton of Shelby, Vandeveer of Christian, and McClernand, all told–9
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter, although his signature has been clipped from the document.
2On June 7, Lincoln wrote Trumbull, urging him to support John McLean as the Republican Party’s candidate for president in the 1856 Federal Election. In his June 15 letter to Lincoln, Trumbull stated that he agreed McLean was the party’s best option for a presidential candidate and that Lincoln’s June 7 letter convinced him to attend the Republican National Convention to help ensure that a conservative candidate such as McLean was nominated. At the convention, however, the party’s delegates nominated John C. Fremont as the party’s candidate for president. Fremont received 359 delegate votes to McLean’s 190.
Proceedings of the First Three Republican National Conventions of 1856, 1860 and 1864 (Minneapolis, MN: Charles W. Johnson, 1893), 54.
3During the 1856 Illinois Anti-Nebraska Convention, delegates to the convention nominated William H. Bissell as the Republican Party’s candidate for governor.
The Weekly Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL), 4 June 1856, 2:1.
4During its 1856 national nominating convention in February, the American Party nominated Millard Fillmore as its candidate for president. Fillmore was formerly a member of the Whig Party and opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, factors Lincoln worried could potentially lure old-line, conservative Whigs in Illinois away from the Republican Party.
Warren F. Hewitt, “The Know Nothing Party in Pennsylvania,” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies 2 (April 1935), 82; Abraham Lincoln to Lyman Trumbull; William E. Gienapp, "The 1856 Election: An Unpublished Lincoln Letter," Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 70 (February 1977), 18; Abraham Lincoln to Lyman Trumbull.
5During the Democratic National Convention in early June, the Democratic Party nominated James Buchanan as its candidate for president. On June 26, 1856, the Illinois Democratic Party held a “ratification meeting” in Springfield, Illinois to celebrate Buchanan’s nomination.
Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 6 June 1856, 2:1; 26 June 1856, 2:3.
6The Daily Illinois State Journal reported that it took the local Democratic Party three attempts to generate enough interest to hold a party meeting in Springfield, and that the event was a “miserable fizzle” and “a failure” that was attended by only two to three hundred people. The Daily Illinois State Register, however, claimed that “The masses turned out in numbers such as we have never seen here since 1844,” including “Large delegations from the surrounding counties.”
Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 26 June 1856, 2:1, 27 June 1856, 2:1; Daily Illinois State Register (Springfield), 27 June 1856, 2:2.
7Lincoln is referring to the fact that both Charles H. Constable and John Hogan—former Whigs who joined the Democratic Party—attended the ratification meeting and delivered speeches.
When Lincoln’s signature was clipped from the verso of this letter, shown in the second image, text was also clipped from four lines of the body at the bottom of the recto of the letter, shown in the first image. The supplied text for some of the missing portions is from William E. Gienapp’s article, “The 1856 Election: An Unpublished Lincoln Letter.” Roy P. Basler, editor of The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, also used the text Gienapp supplied. Gienapp notes that, in this missing section, Lincoln is discussing the Democratic Party’s efforts to recruit former Whigs as speakers and boost attendance from delegates outside Sangamon County, Illinois
Daily Illinois State Register (Springfield), 27 June 1856, 2:2; William E. Gienapp, “The 1856 Election: An Unpublished Lincoln Letter,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 70 (February 1977), 20; Roy P. Basler and Christian O. Basler, eds., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1990), 11:11.
8According to a notice in the June 17 edition of the Daily Illinois State Register, Usher F. Linder, James L. D. Morrison, and Edwin B. Webb were each scheduled to speak at the Democratic Party’s June 26 ratification meeting. Like Constable and Hogan, Linder, James W. Singleton, Webb, and Morrison were all former Whigs who either had converted to the Democratic Party or were suspected of holding Democratic views. In a June 7 letter to Trumbull, Lincoln referred to Constable, Singleton, and Morrison as men who had converted to the Democratic Party “hook and line.” The Daily Illinois State Journal called Constable, Hogan, and Webb (the latter of whom it referred to as “Bob Webb”) “rotten Whigs,” and criticized Linder, Webb, and Morrison for “throwing doubt and distrust” upon the membership of the fledgling Republican Party.
In its coverage of the event, the Daily Illinois State Register made no mention of Linder, Morrison, or Webb delivering addresses, nor of Singleton attending the event. The Daily Illinois State Journal reported that Webb attended, but also made no mention of him speaking. In addition, the Journal published an article mocking Linder, Morrison, and others for not attending.
Daily Illinois State Register (Springfield), 17 June 1856, 2:1; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 25 June 1856, 2:2; 26 June 1856, 2:3-4; 27 June 1856, 2:2-3.
9James W. Barrett presided over the meeting, Horatio M. Vandeveer served as one of the meeting’s vice presidents, and both Samuel W. Moulton and John A. McClernand gave speeches.
Daily Illinois State Register (Springfield), 27 June 1856, 2:2.
10The final portion of Lincoln’s sentence is missing due to his signature having been clipped from the letter, as shown in the second image.
Lincoln and Trumbull exchanged at least two more letters regarding the election of 1856 after this letter.
During the election of 1856, Buchanan won the presidency. In Illinois, he won 44.1 percent of the vote to Fremont’s 40.2 percent and Fillmore’s 15.7 percent. Illinois voters elected Bissell governor over Democrat William A. Richardson and American Party candidate Buckner S. Morris. Bissell won nearly 47 percent of the vote to Richardson’s nearly 45 percent and Morris’ 8 percent.
Lyman Trumbull to Abraham Lincoln; Abraham Lincoln to Lyman Trumbull; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 10; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 20 November 1856, 2:2.
Autograph Letter [Signed], 2 page(s), Box 5, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).