Abraham Lincoln to Julian M. Sturtevant, 27 September 18561
Rev. J. M. SturtevantJacksonville, Ills.My dear Sir:
Owing to absence yours of the 16th was not received till the day-before yesterday–2 I thank you for your good opinion of me personally; and still more for the deep interest you take in the cause of our common country– It pains me a little, that you have deemed it necessary to point out to me how I may be compensated for throwing myself in the breach now– This assumes that I am merely calculating the chances of personal advancement– Let me assure you that I decline to be a candidate for congress, on my clear conviction, that my running would hurt, & not help the cause– I am willing to make any personal sacrafice; but I am not willing to do, what in my own judgment, is a sacrafice of the cause itself–
Very truly YoursA. Lincoln3

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SPR[INGFIELD] Ill[Illinois]
Rev. J. M. SturtevantJacksonvilleIllinois.
[ docketing ]
From Abraham Lincoln
Received Sept.[September] 1856.4
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter, including the address on the envelope.
2Lincoln had been absent from Springfield from September 16 through September 24, 1856, giving speeches in Bloomington, Urbana, Olney, Vandalia, Decatur, and possibly Lawrenceville. From July 1856 onwards, he gave over fifty speeches across Illinois in support of the presidential campaign of John C. Fremont and to rally the disparate elements of the emerging Republican Party. See the 1856 Federal Election.
In his letter to Lincoln, Julian M. Sturtevant urged Lincoln to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in the Sixth Congressional District of Illinois in place of candidate John Williams. This district included both Sangamon County and Morgan County, home to Springfield and Jacksonville, respectively. The nascent Illinois Republican Party had considered several candidates to run for the U.S. House of Representatives against incumbent Democrat Thomas L. Harris in the district in 1856. Richard Yates, who had lost his reelection bid for the seat to Harris in the 1854 election, refused to run again. Lincoln and other Republican leaders met in July 1856 with the hope of persuading anti-Nebraska Democrat John M. Palmer to be their party’s candidate for the seat, but he declined.
By early September, Springfield merchant Williams had been chosen to run instead, and was touted as a hardworking “honest Clay Whig” who threatened to win the votes of American Party supporters and of anti-slavery Democrats. Harris defeated him handily, garnering 54 percent of the vote to Williams’ 46 percent. At the end of Williams’ life, it was claimed that he outperformed a Democratic majority of 4,000 voters in losing by only about 2,100 votes. Yates, however, had lost the seat by only 200 votes in the previous election.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 16 September 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1856-09-16; 17 September 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1856-09-17; 19 September 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1856-09-19; 20 September 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1856-09-20; 23 September 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1856-09-23; 24 September 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1856-09-24; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:424-33; Webster's New Geographical Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1988), 563, 1149; Abraham Lincoln and Others to John M. Palmer; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 4 September 1856, 2:1; 8 September 1856, 3:2; Chicago Daily Tribune (IL), 9 September 1856, 2:2; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 10, 140; The Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 29 May 1890, 4:3.
3No response to this letter has been located.
4An unknown person wrote this docketing.

Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Wellesley College (Wellesley, MA) (letter); Private Collection (Marjorie Main, Falls Church, VA) (envelope).