Abraham Lincoln to David Davis, 7 July 18561Springfield, July 7. 1856Dear Judge:
When I heard that Swett was beaten, and Lovejoy nominated, it turned me blind–2 I was, by invitation, on my way to Princeton; and I really thought of turning back–3 However, on reaching that region, and seeing the people there— their great enthusiasm for Lovejoy— considering the activity they will carry into the contest with him— and their great disappointment, if he should now be torn from them, I really think it best to let the matter stand– It is not my business to advise in the case; and if it were, I am not sure I am capable of giving the best advice; but I know, saying what I do, will not be offensive to you– Show this to Gridley and other friends, or not, just as you may judge whether it do good or harm–4Yours as everA. Lincoln–
2Owen Lovejoy defeated Leonard Swett for the Republican nomination for U.S. representative in the Third Illinois Congressional District. In November 1856, Lovejoy won the general election, defeating Uri Osgood, the Democratic Party candidate, by over 6,000 votes to become a part of the Thirty-Fifth Congress.
Lincoln wrote a similar letter on July 9, 1856 to Henry C. Whitney, writing, “It turned me blind when I first heard Swett was beaten, and Lovejoy nominated.”
Mitchell Snay, “Abraham Lincoln, Owen Lovejoy, and the Emergence of the Republican Party in Illinois,” Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association 22 (Winter 2001), 82-99; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 10.
3Lincoln made a speech at a Republican rally for John C. Fremont and William H. Bissell, Republican candidates for president and governor, respectively, in Princeton, Illinois, on July 4. Lovejoy also spoke at the event.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 4 July 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1856-07-04.
4Bureau County, of which Princeton was the county seat, gave Lovejoy 2,440 votes to 1,312 votes for Osgood.
H. C. Bradsby, ed., History of Bureau County, Illinois (Chicago: World, 1885), 267-68; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990, 139.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Box 5, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).