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Elihu N. Powell to Abraham Lincoln, 16 November 18541
Dear Lincoln
Your favor of the 10th instant only came to hand last evening2 I embrace the first opportunity to reply
Our election here terminated gloriouslyWe have elected Grove and Henderson in this Representative District.3 And Dr Arnold to the Senate in this Senatorial District4 Dr Boal is also elected to the House from the Woodford Marshal & Putnam District5 All of whom are good Whigs and I think all are for you And you may rest assured that I will use all my powers with them and any others in your behalf.6
But allow me to call your attention to a matter connected with the subject of your letter well worthy of your attention and perhaps immediate action You I see have been elected as a member of the Legislature. Allow me to call your attention to the 7th Section of the 3rd Article of our new Constitution which makes you ineligable for the Senate of the US.7 Now if you decline accepting the seat in the legislature and so notify the Governor and have a new Election this will save your bacon8 I merely suggest this as
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worthy of your immediate consideration It has been talked of here amongst some of us as your being the choice for Senator9 And the fact of your ineligibility has been mentioned which will have a tendency to injure your prospects unless it is removed immediately Let me hear from you on the receipt of this letter on this point Are you not ineligable if you take your seat? Can you not decline serving before you take your seat and have another election and save yourself? Be sure to write me immediately
Again let me repeat I am for you against all others from any quarter and shall be glad to do what I can for you. I believe we will have an Anti Nebraska majority in both houses10 Now as whigs we must be liberal in the organization of the Senate & House in the disposal of the offices between whigs & Anti Nebraska democrats if we want to get the US Senator Is not this right These are my views
I hope to be in Springfield in December and shall probably be there when the legislature meets. I do not know of any office I want there unless it should be to bear expenses
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while log rolling for friends
But write me fully on receipt of this for I can do you good if the difficulty is removed suggested above
Yours RespectfullyE N Powell
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PEORIA ILLS[Illinois].
NOV[November] 17
Hon A LincolnSpringfieldIllinois
E. N. Powell11
Nov 16/54[1854]–12
1Elihu N. Powell wrote and signed this letter.
2Abraham Lincoln’s letter of November 10, 1854, has not been found.
3Powell is referring to District Forty-One. Henry Grove represented Peoria County and Thomas J. Henderson represented Stark County.
Louis L. Emmerson, ed., Blue Book of the State of Illinois, 1923-1924 (Springfield: Illinois State Journal, 1923), 681.
4Powell is referring to District Eight. John D. Arnold represented Peoria County.
Louis L. Emmerson, ed., Blue Book of the State of Illinois, 1923-1924, 680.
5Robert Boal represented District Forty-Two.
Louis L. Emmerson, ed., Blue Book of the State of Illinois, 1923-1924, 681.
6Powell references Lincoln’s candidacy for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
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. In November and December 1854, he wrote confidential letters to Powell and other political allies seeking support for his candidacy and information about his prospects.
David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1995), 167-73, 185; Autobiography of Abraham Lincoln Written for John L. Scripps; Abraham Lincoln to Hugh Lamaster; Abraham Lincoln to Joseph Gillespie; Abraham Lincoln to Horace W. Fay; Abraham Lincoln to Charles Hoyt; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:392, 401-2.
7Article III, Section seven of the 1848 Illinois Constitution states, “No person elected to the general assembly shall receive any civil appointment within this state, or to the senate of the United States, from the governor, the governor and senate, or from the general assembly, during the term for which he shall have been elected; and all such appointments, and all votes given for any such member for any such office or appointment, shall be void; nor shall any member of the general assembly be interested, either directly or indirectly, in any contract with the state, or any county thereof, authorized by any law passed during the time for which he shall have been elected, or during one year after the expiration thereof.”
Ill. Const. of 1848, art. III, § 7.
8Lincoln did decline the office to which he was elected, telling Powell in his response on November 27, 1854, that he only allowed himself to be elected, “because it was supposed my doing so would help Yates.” Richard Yates sought reelection as representative of the Sixth Congressional District against Thomas L. Harris but was defeated by 200 votes.
Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 10.
9Lincoln, was among the main contenders when the General Assembly met in joint session on February 8, 1855 to elect Illinois’ next U.S. Senator. The General Assembly ultimately selected anti-Nebraska Democrat Lyman Trumbull instead of Lincoln. Grove, Henderson, and Boal cast their votes for Lincoln on nine ballots until switching to Trumbull. Arnold voted for Lincoln until the ninth ballot, when he shifted to Trumbull. For more on the election, see 1854 Federal Election.
Illinois Senate, Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55; Victor B. Howard, “The Illinois Republican Party: Part I: A Party Organizer for the Republicans in 1854,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 64 (Summer 1971), 153-54.
10The result of the election was an anti-Nebraska majority in the Illinois General Assembly.
David Herbert Donald, Lincoln, 178-79.
11Lincoln wrote this docketing.
12An unknown person wrote this docketing.

Autograph Letter Signed, 4 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).