Abraham Lincoln to John M. Palmer, 5 August 18581
Hon. J. M. Palmer,Dear Sir:
Since we parted last evening no new thought has occurred to (me) on the subject of which we talked most yesterday.2
I have concluded, however, to speak at your town on Tuesday, August 31st, and have promised to have it so appear in the papers of to-morrow.3 Judge Trumbull has not yet reached here.4
Yours as ever,A. Lincoln.5
1This letter is attributed to Abraham Lincoln, but no manuscript version has been located. This transcription is taken from the earliest known published transcription of the document, in Ida Tarbell, The Life of Abraham Lincoln (New York: Doubleday & McClure, 1900), 2:334. The first line naming the recipient as John M. Palmer is presumably a header inserted by Tarbell.
2Lincoln had been in Carlinville for several hours on August 4, 1858, during which time he spoke to Palmer. The pair had communicated in July 1858, via Lincoln’s correspondence with George W. Woods, through which Palmer advised Lincoln on appealing to adherents of the American Party, and urged him to give a speech in Carlinville.
3Lincoln had been nominated at the 1858 Illinois Republican Convention to run against incumbent Stephen A. Douglas to represent Illinois in 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. Lincoln and Douglas both focused their campaign efforts on the former Whig stronghold of central Illinois, where the state legislative races were the closest. Among the former Whigs whose votes were courted were those who had moved into the American Party following the dissolution of the Whig Party.
The Illinois State Journal of the day after this letter published the schedule of the upcoming Lincoln-Douglas Debates, as well as a list of Lincoln’s speaking appointments between August 12 and September 13, 1858, including his scheduled speech in Carlinville.
Lincoln traveled to Carlinville by train on August 31 and gave a speech in the afternoon, followed by a speech by Palmer himself.
Macoupin County ultimately elected Democrats to the Illinois General Assembly in 1858. The county constituted the Twenty-First District of the Illinois House of Representatives, in which Douglas Democrat William C. Shirley defeated Buchanan Democrat Beatty T. Burke, Republican or opposition candidate John I. Rinaker, and American Party or independent candidate Henry Fishback. In Rinaker’s later recollections, there was no expectation that Macoupin County would elect any Republicans in 1858. Macoupin, Greene and Jersey counties made up the Fourteenth District of the Illinois Senate where Democrat Anthony L. Knapp defeated Republican or opposition candidate Alexander B. Morean.
Allen C. Guelzo, “Houses Divided: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Political Landscape of 1858,” The Journal of American History 94 (September 2007), 394, 400-401; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:457-58, 476-77; The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 31 August 1858, https://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1858-08-31; Report of Speech at Carlinville, Illinois; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 6 August 1858, 2:1; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 219, 222; Daily Illinois State Register (Springfield), 3 November 1858, 2:3; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 4 November 1858, 2:3; Chicago Daily Press and Tribune (IL), 5 November 1858, 1:3; Alton Daily Courier (IL), 18 November 1858, 2:4; Macoupin County Enquirer (Carlinville, IL), 10 September 1992, 12:5.
4Lyman Trumbull had remained in the eastern United States following the adjournment on June 16, 1858 of a special session of the U.S. Senate and arrived back in Illinois on August 6, where he gave a speech in Chicago the following day and campaigned throughout the state in support of Lincoln and the Republican Party during the election campaign of 1858.
Ralph J. Roske, His Own Counsel: The Life and Times of Lyman Trumbull (Reno, NV: University of Nevada Press, 1979), 47-51; Cong. Globe, 35th Congress, Special Sess., 3051-61 (1858).
5No response to this letter by Palmer has been located.

Printed Transcription, 1 page(s), Ida M. Tarbell, The Life of Abraham Lincoln (New York: Doubleday & McClure Co., 1900), 2:334.