Abraham Lincoln to Lyman Trumbull, 18 December 18571
Hon: L. Trumbull:Dear Sir:
Yours of the 7th telling me that Mrs Gray is in Washington, reached last night– Herewith I return the notices which I will thank you to serve and return as before requested– This notice is not required by law; and I am giving it merely because I think fairness requires it–2
Nearly all the democrats here stick to Douglas; but they are hobbling along with the idea that there is no split between him and Buchanan– Accordingly they indulge the most extravagant eulogies on B. & his message; and insist that he has not indorsed the Lecompton constitution3
I wish not to tax your time; but when you return the notice, I shall be glad to have your general view of the then present aspect of affairs–
Yours very trulyA. Lincoln
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter.
2Lyman Trumbull’s letter to Lincoln dated December 7, 1857, has not been located. Trumbull sent Lincoln a letter on December 5 indicating that Matilda C. Gray resided in Brooklyn, New York, not Washington, DC. The notices Lincoln references were not enclosed with this letter, and their whereabouts are unknown.
Franklin C. Gray married Mary Anna (Ann) Pitts in 1834, but the couple eventually separated. Mary Anna sued Franklin for divorce in 1851 on the grounds of adultery and was awarded $5,000 in alimony when he failed to appear in court. In March 1853, Franklin married Matilda C. French. In July 1853, Franklin stepped in front of a train in New York and was killed. In December 1856, Gray's first wife Mary Anna retained Lincoln and William H. Herndon and filed a writ of error in the Illinois Supreme Court to reverse the divorce decree and acquire more alimony. The court later dismissed the suit after Mary Anna failed to join the issue on the plea.
Texas, U.S., Marriage Index, 1824-2019, 12 November 1834, Brazoria County (Lehi, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, 2005); Washington, D.C., U.S., Marriage Records, 1810-1953, 23 March 1853 (Lehi, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, 2016); Alton Daily Morning Courier (IL), 25 July 1853, 2:5; Gray v. Gray, Martha L. Benner and Cullum Davis, et. al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, 2nd ed. (Springfield, Ill.: Illinois Historical Preservation Agency, 2009), http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Details.aspx?case=139084; Gray v. Gray et al., Martha L. Benner and Cullum Davis, et. al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Details.aspx?case=139085.
3Lincoln is referencing the conflict within the Democratic Party over the Lecompton Constitution. During the agitation over whether to admit Kansas as a free or slave state, pro-slavery Kansans held a constitutional convention in Lecompton from September 7 to November 8, 1857, drafting a constitution guaranteeing slaveholders already in the territory their property rights and leaving the decision whether to allow new slaves into the territory to voters in a referendum. Voters could vote for the “constitution with slavery” or the “constitution without slavery,” but were not offered the opportunity to accept or reject the constitution as a whole. As Lincoln suggests, President James Buchanan endorsed the work of the Lecompton convention and the constitution in his annual message to Congress on December 8, 1857. On December 21, Kansans voting in the referendum on the Lecompton Constitution—free state Kansans abstained from participating—cast 6,226 votes for Lecompton with slavery and 569 for it without slavery amid charges of voter fraud. On January 4, 1858, however, Kansans voting in elections called by the anti-slavery legislature—pro-slavery Kansans abstained from participating—overwhelmingly rejected the Lecompton Constitution. Despite opposition in Kansas and considerable backlash from Republicans and the anti-slavery faction in the Democratic Party, President Buchanan supported the Lecompton Constitution, urging that Kansas be admitted into the Union under the its terms. Stephen A. Douglas opposed it, however, bringing him into conflict with Buchanan. Buchanan warned Douglas that he faced political reprisals if he opposed the administration, but Douglas defied the president, arguing in a speech before the U.S. Senate that the Lecompton Constitution did not reflect the will of the actual inhabitants of Kansas, citing the December 21, 1857 vote that allowed voters to vote for the constitution but not against it. The Senate approved the Lecompton Constitution, but Republicans, Democratic allies of Douglas, and others, with Douglas as floor leader of the opposition, defeated it in the U.S. House of Representatives. See Bleeding Kansas.
David M. Potter, The Impending Crisis: America Before the Civil War 1848-1861 (New York: Harper & Row, 1976), 307, 315-16, 317, 318, 320, 325; Wendall H. Stephenson, “Lecompton Constitution,” Dictionary of American History, rev. ed. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976), 4:130-31; U.S. House Journal. 1857. 35th Cong., 1st sess., 34-35; Cong. Globe, 35th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 195 (1858).

Autograph Letter Signed, 1 page(s), Huntington Library (San Marino, CA).