Abraham Lincoln to J. Young Scammon, 10 November 18541Clinton, DeWitt Co.2 Nov. 10. 1854J. Y. Scammon, Esq.[Esquire]My dear Sir:
Some partial friends here are for me for the U.S. Senate; and it would be very foolish, and very false, for me to deny that I would be pleased with an election to that Honorable body– If you know nothing, and feel nothing to the contrary, please make a mark for me with the members–3 Write me, at all events–4
Direct to Springfield–
Let this be confidential.Yours as everA. Lincoln–
2Lincoln was in Clinton for a special term of the DeWitt County Circuit Court. He arrived on November 8, 1854 and returned to Springfield on the evening of November 11.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 8 November 1854, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1854-11-08; 11 November 1854, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1854-11-11.
3Lincoln wrote similar letters to other political allies in November and December of 1854.
Passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and its effective repeal of the Missouri Compromise reawakened Lincoln’s passion for politics, and he threw himself into the congressional election campaign in the fall of 1854, crisscrossing Illinois to deliver speeches against the Kansas-Nebraska Act and in support of anti-Nebraska candidates. He even allowed himself to become a candidate for the Illinois General Assembly (albeit unwillingly at first). As the election campaign reached its climax, Lincoln’s name began to circulate as a possible nominee for one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats.
Lincoln won election to the Illinois General Assembly, but, in late-November 1854, declined to serve in order to run for the U.S. Senate. Ultimately, Lincoln did not win election to the U.S. Senate; the Illinois General Assembly selected anti-Nebraska Democrat Lyman Trumbull instead. See the 1854 Federal Election.
Abraham Lincoln to Charles Hoyt; Abraham Lincoln to Hugh Lamaster; Abraham Lincoln to Joseph Gillespie; Abraham Lincoln to Horace W. Fay; David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1995), 167-73; Autobiography of Abraham Lincoln Written for John L. Scripps; William H. Randolph to Abraham Lincoln; Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 10 November 1854, 2:5; Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55.
4J. Young Scammon replied to Lincoln on December 16, 1854 acknowledging receipt of this letter and expressing a desire to speak to Lincoln in person. On December 26, Charles Hoyt wrote Lincoln that State Representative William Patten of DeKalb County favored Scammon for the Senate seat. When the Illinois General Assembly took up the election of senator on February 8, 1855, Scammon’s candidacy was only considered in the fifth round of voting, and he received a single vote from representative Benjamin Hackney of Kane County. Patten cast his ballot for William B. Ogden, Martin P. Sweet, and Trumbull before finally committing to Trumbull in the seventh ballot. Hackney shifted his allegiance back and forth from Lincoln to Sweet and Scammon until deciding on Trumbull in the ninth ballot. Augustus Adams, who represented DeKalb, Kane, Lee, and Whiteside counties in the Illinois Senate, cast seven ballots for Lincoln before switching his vote to Trumbull.
John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 221; Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 3, 242-55.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Box 4, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).