Charles Hoyt to Abraham Lincoln, 20 November 18541Aurora Kane Co Ills
November 20/54Hon A LincolnDr[Dear] Sir
your favor of 10th Inst is received and will asure you it will give me pleasure to do what I can for your apointment to the Sennet2 M. V. Hall Esq[Esquire] of our place will give me all the points you wish within a few days he is a good & true man and would advise you to open a corispondence with him3 B Hackney of our place is a member of the Lower House is a Whig but was elected on the fusion ticket and [him?] no dout he will go for you I am not on terms with him you had better write him a little Sodden will not hurt as he is a Bull head Augustus Addams of Elgin is our Senator– Was formaly a Whig but hereof on the free Soil Humbug in 484 is now Elected by the fusionist and will go with Hackney you would
<Page 2>do well to write him our other member has always been a [public?] Loco but elected on the fusion ticket5 Mr Hall will get at the Political [Compution?] of members in adjoining Counteys––
What is to be done with my water wheal [Sute?] have we got to [try ?] that matter again if so pleas examine the matter and see that our papers are all as they should be and advis me at your erliest [convenience?] and with this pleas find Ten dollars ($10)6 and shal be pleased to hear from you on your other matter and will do all I can for you for Let me asure you it would give me great pleasure to see you In the U.S. Senate you will believe me as ever.7yours TruelyC Hoyt
1Charles Hoyt wrote and signed this letter. He also wrote the address on the envelope, shown in the third image.
2Abraham Lincoln wrote Hoyt on November 10, 1854 asking for information on Kane County’s representatives in the Illinois General Assembly and whether they might support him if he ran for one of Illinois’ seats in the U.S. Senate. Lincoln wrote similar letters to other political allies in November and December 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.
4The Free Soil Party performed well in Kane County in the 1848 Federal Election. Free Soil candidates triumphed over both Democratic and Whig candidates by healthy margins in several towns, and, in the presidential contest, Kane County’s voters awarded 43.1 percent of the total vote to the Free Soil Party, 30.2 percent to the Whig Party, and 26.6 percent to the Democratic Party.
The Past and Present of Kane County, Illinois (Chicago: Wm. Le Baron, Jr., 1878), 258; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 122.
5Although Hoyt refers to Benjamin Hackney as a Whig, the Kane County Republican Party endorsed both him and Augustus Adams during the election of 1854. They both ran as fusionist candidates. Fusion tickets became common during the election, as disaffected Whigs and Democrats banded together with Free Soilers, Nativists, and temperance advocates. Many Whigs also fused with Democrats who shared their distaste for the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the extension of slavery. See the 1854 Federal Election. In Kane County, Whig and Republican candidates fused with Democratic candidates over both opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the prohibition of alcohol.
The citizens of Kane and DeKalb counties elected Hackney to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1854, along with William Patten, the “other member” Hoyt references. Hackney won 1,093 votes, Patten won 1,143 votes, and their closest opponent, Democrat A. J. Waldron, won 956 votes. Kane and DeKalb counties also elected Adams to the Illinois Senate. He triumphed over his Democratic and Whig opponents with 1,268 votes to their 939 and 434 votes, respectively.
No correspondence between Lincoln and Hackney has been located. In a November 30 letter to Lincoln, Alexander C. Gibson stated that, at the request of Hoyt, he called upon Hackney and “found him well disposed towards your election.” Gibson also reported that Hackney claimed Adams had agreed to act with him on supporting Lincoln for U.S. Senator, but that Adams would not offer a “positive pledge on the question, at present.”
In a letter dated December 17, 1854, Adams indicates that Lincoln wrote him on December 5. In his December 17 reply, Adams explained the criteria that he desired in a U.S. senator, ultimately stating that although “my preferences are in your favor. . . I do not wish to be considered as fully committed.” At least two of Lincoln’s other political allies also wrote him about Adams before Lincoln received Adams’ letter.
In late-December 1854, Hoyt wrote Lincoln with additional information concerning Patten’s stance on the race for the U.S. Senate.
Aurora Guardian (IL), 28 September 1854, 2:3; 2 November 1854, 2:1, 2:2, 2:4; 16 November 1854, 2:4; Allen C. Guelzo, Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1999), 200; Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 2 January 1855, 2:3; Jesse O. Norton to Abraham Lincoln; David Davis to Abraham Lincoln.
6Hoyt is referring to the case between he and Zebulon Parker. Parker sued Hoyt in the U.S. Circuit Court, District of Illinois for violating Parker’s patent, obtained in October 1829, for a reaction percussion waterwheel. Lincoln first became involved in the case in 1849, and the case was still in progress when Hoyt wrote this letter.
Lincoln and Hoyt exchanged at least three more letters related to this case after this November 20 letter.
For additional information on the case, see Parker v. Hoyt, Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, 2d edition (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009), http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Details.aspx?case=137697; Grant Goodrich to Abraham Lincoln; Charles Hoyt to Abraham Lincoln; Abraham Lincoln to Charles Hoyt; Abraham Lincoln to Charles Hoyt.
7Hoyt wrote Lincoln at least two more letters related to Lincoln’s bid for the U.S. Senate.
The state’s voters sent an anti-Nebraska majority to the Illinois General Assembly, in which Lincoln also won a seat. However, in late-November 1854, he 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. Adams cast seven ballots for Lincoln before switching his vote to Trumbull. Hackney shifted his allegiance back and forth from Lincoln to Martin P. Sweet and J. Young Scammon until deciding on Trumbull in the ninth ballot. Patten cast his ballot for William B. Ogden, Sweet, and Trumbull before finally committing to Trumbull in the seventh ballot. See the 1854 Federal Election.
Charles Hoyt to Abraham Lincoln; Charles Hoyt to Abraham Lincoln; Stephen Hansen and Paul Nygard, “Stephen A. Douglas, the Know-Nothings, and the Democratic Party in Illinois, 1854-1858,” Illinois Historical Journal 87 (Summer 1994), 114; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:392, 401-2; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 220-21; Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 10 November 1854, 2:5; Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55.
Autograph Letter Signed, 3 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).