Abraham Lincoln to [Benjamin C. Lundy], 5 August 18571Springfield, Aug. 5. 1857Dear Sir:
Some time ago you wrote me expressing the opinion that something should be done now, to secure the next Legislature–2 You were perfectly right; and I now suggest that, from the poll-books in the county clerk’s office, you have made alphabetical lists of all the voters in each precinct, or Township (I believe you have Township organization)3 the lists to be in separate little books, and to be corrected, by striking off such as may have died or removed, and adding such as will be entitled to vote at the next election– This will not be a heavy job, and you see how, like a map, it lays the whole field before you– You know, at once,Yours trulyA. Lincoln5
<Page 2>how, and with whom to work– You will have no trouble to carry your county of Putnam; but you are (as I remember) part of the Peoria Senatorial District, and that is close and questionable, so that you need every vote you can get in Putnam4 Let all be so quiet that the advesary shall not be notified–
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter. Another version of the letter in the hand of Lincolniana collector Charles W. McClellan is extant.
2The referenced letter from Lundy to Lincoln has not been located. Lincoln wrote an initial response to Lundy’s letter on July 20, 1857.
3Under the 1848 Illinois Constitution, the Illinois General Assembly was to pass a law authorizing township organization in any county where it was adopted by a majority of voters at a general election. Lundy was from Magnolia in Putnam County; Putnam County established township government on November 8, 1855.
Michael D. Sublett, Township: Diffusion and Persistence of Grassroots Government in Illinois, 1850-2000 (New York: Peter Lang, 2004), 19-22, 24; Ill. Const. of 1848, art. VII, § 6; “An Act to Provide for Township and County Organisation, Under Which Any County May Organise Whenever a Majority of Voters of Such County, at Any General Election, Shall So Determine,” 12 February 1849, Laws of Illinois (1849), 190-224; Name Index to Illinois Local Governments, Township, Putnam County, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; William Clinton Armstrong, The Lundy Family and their Descendants of Whatsoever Surname (New Brunswick, NJ: J. Heidingsfeld, 1902), 256; Henry A. Ford, The History of Putnam and Marshall Counties (Lacon, IL: Gazette, 1860), 90.
4As of 1854, Putnam County was part of the Eighth District of the Illinois Senate, which also included Marshall, Peoria, and Woodford counties. In the state election of 1858, voters in the Eighth District elected Republican George C. Bestor to the Illinois Senate. Bestor won his seat by 120 votes overall, and Putnam and Peoria counties were celebrated after the election as being areas where Republicans had made a strong showing due to their hard work on the campaign. In Putnam County, Bestor came in first with 607 votes compared to 297 votes received by his closest competitor, Douglas Democrat William S. Moss.
Putnam County, along with Marshall and Woodford counties, comprised the Forty-Second District of the Illinois House of Representatives, where voters also elected a Republican in the election of 1858. Republican John A. McCall won the seat for the district, with a majority of 303 votes in Putnam County.
The overall outcome of the 1858 election in Illinois was that the Republican Party state ticket was successful, but the Democratic Party held a majority in the Illinois General Assembly.
John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 219, 220, 222; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 5 November 1858, 3:2; 16 November 1858, 1:1; The Weekly Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL), 10 November 1858, 2:1; 24 November 1858, 2:3; Green B. Raum, History of Illinois Republicanism (Chicago: Rollins, 1900), 38.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Lincoln Collection, Brown University (Providence, RI).