Abraham Lincoln to Joseph Gillespie, 25 July 18581
Hon. J GillespieMy dear Sir
Your doleful letter of the 18th was received on my return from Chicago last night–2 I do hope you are worse scared than hurt, though you ought to know best– We must not lose that district–3 We must make a job of it, and save it– Lay hold of the proper agencies and secure all the Americans you can, at once– I do hope, on closer inspection, you will find they are not half gone– Make a little test– Run down one of the poll-books of the Edwardsville precinct, and take the first hundred known American names. Then quietly ascertain how many of them are actually going for Douglas– I think you will find less than fifty– But even if you find find fifty, make sure of the other fifty— that is, make sure of all you can at all events– We will set other agencies to work, which shall com-
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pensate for the loss of a good many Americans–4 Dont fail to check the stampede at once– Trumbull, I think will be with you before long– There is much he can not do, and some he can– I have reason to hope there will be other help of an appropriate kind– Write me again–
Yours as everA. Lincoln
[ docketing ]
Abraham Lincoln5
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter.
2Lincoln and Joseph Gillespie corresponded about the upcoming state elections in Illinois. Lincoln was the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. At this time the Illinois General Assembly elected the state’s representatives in the U.S. Senate, thus the outcome of races for the Illinois House of Representatives and Illinois Senate were of importance to Lincoln’s campaign. See 1858 Illinois Republican Convention; 1858 Federal Election.
Lincoln had traveled to Chicago on July 21 to meet with Republicans and discuss challenging Stephen A. Douglas, the incumbent and Lincoln's opposition for the U.S. Senate, to debate with him. On the 24th, Lincoln wrote Douglas suggesting a series of debates.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 21 July 1858, https://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1858-07-21; 22 July 1858, https://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1858-07-22; 24 July 1858, https://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1858-07-24; Abraham Lincoln to Stephen A. Douglas; Allen C. Guelzo, "Houses Divided: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Political Landscape of 1858," The Journal of American History 94 (September 2007), 392; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:457-58.
3Lincoln is referring to Illinois Senate District Twenty-One, which included Bond, Madison, and Montgomery counties.
Allen C. Guelzo, "Houses Divided: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Political Landscape of 1858," 392; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 219.
4Former members of the American Party were an important source of votes for both Democrats and Republicans in the state and federal elections of 1858, and both sides worked to garner their support.
Lincoln expressed his concern in a previous letter to Gillespie that the overwhelming number of votes cast for American Party candidate Millard Fillmore in the 1856 presidential election in the Twenty-First District meant that a large number of voters could now be swayed to vote either Democrat or Republican.
Despite these plans and efforts, Democrats swept District Twenty-One in the Illinois Senate and Gillespie's home county of Madison in the Illinois House of Representatives. Democrat Samuel A. Buckmaster from Madison County beat Gillespie by 184 votes in the Senate race. The men elected to the House in Madison County—Zephaniah B. Job (over Republican Isaac Cox) and Joseph H. Sloss (over Republican Curtis Blakeman) — both voted for Stephen A. Douglas for U.S. Senate in the 1858 Federal Election, as did Buckmaster. Lincoln would lose the election to Douglas.
Tyler Anbinder, Nativism & Slavery: The Northern Know Nothings & the Politics of the 1850s (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 246-78; Stephen Hansen and Paul Nygard, “Stephen A. Douglas, the Know-Nothings, and the Democratic Party in Illinois, 1854-1858,” Illinois Historical Journal 87 (Summer 1994), 123-29; Louis L. Emmerson, ed., Blue Book of the State of Illinois, 1923-1924 (Springfield: Illinois State Journal, 1923), 682; Illinois Senate Journal. 1859. 21st G. A., 30; W. T. Norton, ed., Centennial History of Madison County, Illinois, and Its People, 1812 to 1912 (Chicago: Lewis, 1912), 1:81; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, 1:547.
5Gillespie wrote this docketing.

Copy of Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Association Files, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).