Abraham Lincoln to James M. Ruggles, 28 October 18561Springfield, Oct 28. 1856J. M. Ruggles, Esq. [Esquire]Dear Sir:
I write this to appologise for not being with you to-day–2 I was forced off to Pike county, where I spoke yesterday, and I have just returned–3 Be assured I could not help it.Yours trulyA. Lincoln–4
2No letter from James M. Ruggles to which this is a response has been located. Ruggles was active in the nascent Illinois Republican Party, drafting the party’s first platform in 1856. Lincoln had presumably been asked either by letter or in person to speak at a political meeting in Mason County on October 28, 1856. From July 1856 onwards, Abraham Lincoln 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.
The Fremont Club of Mason County had held a meeting in Havana on October 2, 1856, at which William Kellogg, the Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives for the Fourth Illinois Congressional District, gave a speech. Kellogg and his Democratic opponent, James W. Davidson, had agreed at that time to debate in Havana during court week. The act which placed Mason County Circuit Court in the Fifth Judicial Circuit of Illinois set the court’s fall term to begin on the fourth Monday in October, which in 1856 would have been October 27.
Despite the efforts of Republicans in Mason County, Fremont ultimately received only 17.2 percent of the vote in the county, coming in third behind Democrat James Buchanan who earned 47.4 percent of the vote, and American Party candidate Millard Fillmore who garnered 35.6 percent. Although Kellogg was the overall winner of the race for the U.S. House of Representatives with 51.1 percent of the vote compared to Davidson’s 45.7 percent, he performed poorly in Mason County, winning only 28.6 percent of the vote.
The History of Menard and Mason Counties, Illinois (Chicago: O. L. Baskin, 1879), 775; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:425-33; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 9 October 1856, 2:4; “An Act to Regulate the Times of Holding Courts in the Fifth and Twelfth Judicial Circuits,” 22 June 1852, Laws of Illinois (1852), 177; The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 27 October 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1856-10-27; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 10, 136, 139.
3Lincoln addressed a Republican meeting in Pittsfield on October 27, 1856.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 27 October 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1856-10-27.
Autograph Letter Signed, 1 page(s), Box 5, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).