Abraham Lincoln to Henry O'Connor, 14 September 18561
Henry O'Conner, Esq[Esquire]Muscatine IowaDear Sir
Yours inviting me to attend a mass meeting on the 23rd Inst is received–2 It would be very pleasant to strike hands with the Fremonters of Iowa, who have led the van so splendidly, in this grand charge which we hope and believe will end in a most glorious victory– All thanks, all honor to Iowa!!–
But Iowa is out of all danger,3 and it is no time for us, when the battle still rages, to pay holy-day visits to Iowa– I am sure you will excuse me for remaining in Illinois when4 much hard work is still to be done–5
Yours very trulyA. Lincoln
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter.
2Henry O’Connor’s August 23, 1856, letter to Lincoln has not been located.
3Iowa held elections for the state legislature and for the U.S. Congress on August 4, 1856. Ultimately, both men elected to the U.S. Congress from Iowa were Republicans, and the Republican Party gained control of the Iowa General Assembly as well as all departments of the state government.
N. Howe Parker, Iowa As It Is In 1856; A Gazetteer for Citizens, and a Hand-Book for Immigrants (Chicago: Keen and Lee, 1856), 236-37; Michael J. Dubin, United States Congressional Elections, 1788-1997: The Official Results of the Elections of the 1st through 105th Congresses (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1998), 176; Benjamin F. Gue, History of Iowa from the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century (New York: Century History, 1903), 1:284.
4Roy P. Basler, editor of The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, rendered this word as “where.”
Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 2:376.
5O’Connor almost certainly invited Lincoln to attend a Republican Party meeting in Iowa and deliver an address. Lincoln was in high demand as a speaker for the Republican Party during the 1856 Federal Election campaign. He delivered more than fifty speeches throughout Illinois as he stumped on behalf of John C. Fremont, the Republican candidate for president, and other Republican candidates. Norman B. Judd, Ebenezer Peck, and James W. Grimes had each also invited Lincoln to speak in Iowa. In a July 12 letter to Grimes, Lincoln outlined different reasons for refusing their invitations than the reasons he gives O’Connor in this letter.
Lincoln delivered one political speech outside Illinois during the 1856 campaign season—in Kalamazoo, Michigan on August 27. Lincoln spoke at a rally in Vandalia, Illinois on September 23, the day O’Connor wanted him to speak in Iowa.
Lincoln’s belief that Iowa was safe for the Republicans proved accurate: Fremont carried Iowa with 48.8 percent of the vote to 40.7 percent for Democratic candidate James Buchanan and 10.5 for American Party candidate Millard Fillmore. Lincoln also had a reason to be worried about Illinois: Buchanan carried Illinois with 44.1 percent of the vote to Fremont’s 40.2 percent and Fillmore’s 15.7 percent. In the nation-wide tally, Buchanan won 45.3 percent of the popular vote to 33.1 percent for Fremont and 21.5 percent for Fillmore. Buchanan won the Electoral College with 174 votes to 114 for Fremont and 8 for Fillmore.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:425; Norman B. Judd to Abraham Lincoln; The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 23 September 1856, http://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1856-09-23; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 10; Cong. Globe, 34th Cong., 3rd Sess., 652 (1857); John L. Moore, Jon P. Preimesberger, and David R. Tarr, eds., Congressional Quarterly’s Guide to U.S. Elections, 4th ed. (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2001), 1:652

Autograph Letter Signed, 1 page(s), Folder: Presidential Letters, Special Collections, University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA).