Abraham Lincoln to Anthony C. Hesing, Henry Wendt, and Anthony Fischer, 30 June 18581Springfield, June 30, 1858.A. C Hesing, H. Wendt, A. Fisher, Committee:Gents[Gentlemen]:—
Your kind letter, inviting me to be present at your celebration of the anniversary of American Independence, to be held on the fifth, and upon which occasion a Banner is to be presented to the German Republicans of the 7th Ward of your city, is received.2 I regret to say my engagements are such that I cannot be with you. I have several previous invitations, all of which I have been compelled to decline, except one, which will take but a single day of my time. To attend yours, would require at least four.3 I send you a sentiment:
Our German Fellow-Citizens:—Ever true to Liberty, the Union, and the Constitution— true to Liberty, not selfishly, but upon principle— not for special classes of men, but for all men; true to the Union and the Constitution, as the best means to advance that liberty.Your ob’t serv’t[obedient servant],A. Lincoln4.
1This letter is attributed to Abraham Lincoln but no manuscript version with his signature has been located. It is excerpted from a longer article in the Chicago Tribune describing the Fourth of July festivities of German-Americans in Chicago, which specifies that as part of the proceedings this letter from Lincoln was read out loud by August (Augustus) Bruning. The names of the recipients come from the internal address included in this printed text, although the manuscript invitation to which this responds was signed only by Anthony C. Hesing.
Chicago Daily Press and Tribune (IL), 7 July 1858, 1:3-4; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Ward 7, Chicago, Cook County, IL, 189; T. M. Halpin, comp., Halpin & Bailey’s Chicago City Directory for the Year 1861-62 (Chicago: Halpin & Bailey, 1861), 56.
2Hesing, Henry Wendt, and Anthony Fischer comprised the festival committee for the Fourth of July celebration of Chicago’s German-Americans, which was held on Monday, July 5, 1858, and raised funds to benefit the German Aid Society. In addition to speeches in English and German, the event featured gymnastics and games.
As part of the festivities, the German Republicans of Chicago’s Seventh Ward were presented a banner in recognition of their efforts in securing victory in the March 2, 1858, Chicago municipal election for the Republican Party. In the latter half of the 1850s, the Seventh Ward of Chicago was referred to as the “Bloody Seventh” due to the political clashes between Irish residents who supported the Democratic Party and German residents who increasingly supported the Republican Party. The outcome of the 1858 Chicago municipal election was that the entire Republican ticket was elected. In addition, following the election the Chicago city marshall, city clerk, and five aldermen were all of German origin, and the Germans of the Seventh Ward were celebrated for their role in the Republican victory. While in the 1856 mayoral election the Seventh Ward had given a 790-vote margin of victory to Democrat Thomas Dyer, in the 1858 mayoral race the ward gave Republican victor John C. Haines a 158-vote advantage. The ward was lauded by the Chicago Daily Tribune, which wrote that it had “been redeemed, regenerated and disenthralled! The great Irish citadel has been stormed–the black flag of Ruffianism has been hauled down, and the bright banner of Freedom waves in glorious triumph.”
Chicago Daily Press and Tribune (IL), 2 July 1858, 1:2; 7 July 1858, 1:3-4; Raymond Lohne, “‘Five Times as Enthusiastic’: Abraham Lincoln and the Bloody Seventh of Chicago,” Yearbook of German-American Studies 50 (2015), 105-28; Christina Bearden-White, “Illinois Germans and the Coming of the Civil War: Reshaping Ethnic Identity,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 109 (Fall 2016), 236-37; Chicago Daily Tribune (IL), 1 March 1858, 1:1-2; 3 March 1858, 1:1-2; 4 March 1858, 1:2; 5 March 1858, 2:1; 6 March 1858, 1:3; The Weekly Chicago Times (IL), 4 March 1858, 3:1.
3Lincoln attended Fourth of July festivities in Jacksonville on Saturday, July 3, 1858, as a guest of honor. He was home in Springfield on Sunday, July 4, and on July 5, the day of the Fourth of July celebration he here declines to attend, he attended an afternoon dinner in Springfield honoring the Springfield Pioneer Fire Company. For previous invitations to Lincoln to attend Fourth of July celebrations in 1858, see Charles J. Peckham to Abraham Lincoln and William B. Warren to Abraham Lincoln.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 3 July 1858, https://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1858-07-03; 4 July 1858, https://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1858-07-04; 5 July 1858, https://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1858-07-05.
4No response to this letter has been located. A translation of this letter was published in a German-language campaign biography of Lincoln in 1860.
Das Leben von Abraham Lincoln (Chicago: Höffgen und Schneider, 1860), 42; Ernest James Wessen, “Campaign Lives of Abraham Lincoln 1860: An Annotated Bibliography of the Biographies of Abraham Lincoln Issued During the Campaign Year,” Papers in Illinois History and Transactions for the Year 1937 (Springfield: The Illinois State Historical Society, 1938), 218-19.
Printed Transcription, 1 page(s), Chicago Daily Press and Tribune, (Chicago, IL), 7 July 1858, 1:4.