Abraham Lincoln to Charles H. Ray, 13 September 18561Bloomington, Sept 13/56.Dr C. Ray,Dear Sir:
I wrote Goodrich to see the committee & have a hundred german papers sent here in one bundle to W. H. Hanna–2 They dont come– What is the reason– I also wrote you to have fifty sent to Jabez Capps, Mount Pulaski, Logan Co, Ills.3 Whether they are coming I dont know– Pray do not let either be neglected–
Last evening I was scared a little by being told that the enemy are getting the german's away from us at Chicago– Is there any truth in that? Write me here–4Yours trulyA. Lincoln
2Lincoln’s letter to Grant Goodrich has not been located. Lincoln may be referring to the Illinois Staats-Zeitung, a German-language pro-Republican newspaper published in Chicago, Illinois.
Franklin William Scott, Newspapers and Periodicals of Illinois, 1814-1879, vol. 6 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1910), 61-62.
3Lincoln made this request on September 8.
4Ray’s reply, if he wrote one, has not been located.
The Republican Party in Illinois courted the votes of German Americans during the 1856 Federal Election. Ray believed the Republicans stood a chance of winning the votes of 20,000 anti-slavery Germans in the state if the party distanced itself from the nativist stance and policies of the American Party, which it ultimately did via an anti-nativist plank it its 1856 platform that Lincoln helped draft. During the 1856 election campaign, Lincoln not only organized the distribution of pro-Republican German-language newspapers; he also advocated for German speakers such as Friedrich K. F. Hecker to deliver addresses at Republican political meetings. After Hecker’s home was destroyed in a fire that Hecker and others suspected was intentionally set in retribution for his political activism on behalf of the Republican Party, Lincoln even raised funds for Hecker both as a show of support and in the hopes that such funds would enable Hecker to continue speaking at Republican events. Lincoln personally pledged $100 to Hecker as part of this fundraising.
Although Democrat James Buchanan won the presidency, carrying Illinois with 44.1 percent of the vote, the Republican Party won more than half of the state’s German vote and swept the races for every state office.
Abraham Lincoln to Charles H. Ray; Abraham Lincoln to Friedrich Hecker; Sabine Freitag, Friedrich Hecker: Two Lives for Liberty, trans. by Steven Rowan (St. Louis: St. Louis Mercantile Library, University of Missouri–St. Louis, 2006), 174-75; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:412-13, 432; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 10; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 20 November 1856, 2:2.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Lincoln Collection, Chicago Historical Society (Chicago, IL).