Abraham Lincoln to Richard Yates, 9 March 18581
Hon. R. YatesMy dear Sir:
If you approve of the following, continue to have it appear in some one of the anti-administration papers down your way— better there than here2
"Mr Editor:
Why may not all anti-administration men in this District vote for James H. Matheny, of Springfield, for Congress?3 He was opposed to the repeal of the Missouri compromise; was for Fillmore in 1856, but never was a Know-Nothing– He is now opposed to the Lecompton constitution, and the Dred Scott decision– Who can be more suitable, when a union of Fremont and Fillmore men, is indispensable?4
A. republican"
We have thought this over here– The leading Fillmore men here wish to act with us, and they want a name upon which they can bring up their rank and file– It will help us in Sangamon, where we shall be hard run, about members of the Legislature5 Think it over, and if you can approve it, give it a start as above–
I have not forgotten my course towards "Jim" for a nomination in 1856, which you also well know– The difficulty then was on a point which has since been measurably superseded by the Dred Scott de-
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cision; and he is with us on that–6
Butler says you rather had an eye to getting our old friend Bill Green on the track– Nothing would please me better, whenever he got on to ground that would suit you, except it would give us no access to the Fillmore votes–7 Dont you see? We must have some one who will reach the Fillmore men, both for the direct and the incidental effect–
I wish you would see Nult Green, and present this view to him– Point out to him the necessities of the case, and also how the question, as to "Jim" is varied since 18568
Let this be strictly confidential–
Yours as ever.A. Lincoln
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A. Lincoln9
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1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter.
2Richard Yates lived in Jacksonville, Illinois in Morgan County, located just west of Sangamon County. With the ever-growing rift in the Democratic Party over the expansion of slavery into Kansas, Lincoln and the Republicans hoped to woo Democrats who supported President James Buchanan and opposed Stephen A. Douglas in a bid unseat Douglas as U.S. senator in the 1858 Federal Election.
No newspapers have been found that include the anonymous note.
U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Jacksonville, Morgan County, IL, 82; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:454-56; Webster's New Geographical Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1988), 563.
3Lincoln references the Sixth Illinois Congressional District, which included Morgan and Sangamon counties. James H. Matheny had been a Whig, but at the dissolution of the party, he did not commit to the Republican Party. Lincoln therefore hoped he would appeal to Republicans as well as Democrats who opposed Stephen A. Douglas. Matheny ran in opposition to incumbent Thomas L. Harris, reportedly still calling himself a Whig but running as an independent candidate supported by the Republican Party. John L. McConnell also entered the race as a Buchanan Democrat. Harris won reelection, garnering 57.6 percent of the vote compared to 41.4 percent earned by Matheny, and less than 1 percent received by McConnell.
John M. Palmer, ed., The Bench and Bar of Illinois: Historical and Reminiscent (Chicago: Lewis, 1899), 1:192; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 7 September 1858, 2:1; The Daily Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL), 9 October 1858, 2:2; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 11, 142.
4Lincoln is referring to the 1856 Federal Election, when Republicans nominated John C. Fremont as their first presidential candidate, Democrats nominated Buchanan, and the American Party, in its final participation in a presidential election, nominated Millard Fillmore. Lincoln and the Republicans, concerned about having two opposition parties, attempted to work together with the American Party to defeat Buchanan. Had their plan worked, and the Republicans and Americans had united, the Republican candidate, Fremont, would have been victorious in Illinois instead of Buchanan.
Thomas F. Schwartz, “Lincoln, Form Letters, and Fillmore Men,” Illinois Historical Journal 78 (Spring 1985), 66; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990, 10.
5Lincoln had hoped that Yates would run for the Illinois General Assembly in Morgan County to help Lincoln’s 1858 senate run against Douglas; at the time, state legislatures chose members of the Senate. However, Yates declined to run. Morgan and Sangamon counties composed the fifteenth state senate district, and Morgan County along with Scott County composed the twenty-seventh house district.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, 1:547; Allen C. Guelzo, Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008), 217; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 219.
6Matheny supported Fillmore of the anti-immigrant American Party in the 1856 Federal Election. Lincoln and the Republicans were opposed to the decision in the Dred Scott case, which effectively barred any current or future emancipated slave from the right of United States citizenship and solidified the right of American citizens to transport their property wherever they wished—including taking an enslaved individual into a free state—without feared loss of that property.
Walter Ehrlich, "Dred Scott Case," Dictionary of American History , rev. ed. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1976), 2:370; The Weekly Chicago Times (IL), 14 August 1856, 2:7; Report of Speech at Springfield, Illinois.
7William G. Greene, an old friend of Lincoln’s, supported the Republican Party and had no affiliation with Fillmore’s American Party.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, 1:75-76; The History of Menard and Mason Counties, Illinois (Chicago: O. L. Baskin, 1879), 712-13.
8Lynn M. (Nult) Greene was the brother of William G. Greene.
The History of Menard and Mason Counties, Illinois, 646.
9Richard Yates wrote this docketing.
10An unknown person wrote this docketing in pencil.

Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Private Collection.