Robert Boal to Abraham Lincoln, 7 December 18541Lacon Dec. 7th 1854Hon A LincolnDear Sir
Your letter of the 29th reached me two days since2, I think your suggestion as to the course of your friends in reference to the Senatorial election, a good one, and if carried out by them (as I hope and believe it will be) gives you a fair prospect of an election;3
So far as any effort of mine, can aid in securing such a result, it will not be spared, and in any way in which I can assist you, my services are at your disposal– I will leave home on Friday and reach your City on Saturday Morning previous to the Commencement of the Session,4 in the mean time should any thing occur, to change the present aspect of affairs, please let me know– Mrs B, will be with me during the Session, and I will take it as a favor, if you will see whether I can obtain a room for
<Page 2>at the "City Hotel" for her & myself, and upon what terms, & write me,? I prefer a Public to a private House–
I learned to day, that you have resigned your seat in the House and that a Special election is ordered for the 22d inst, Will this step affect your prospects favorably, or otherwise? Can the opposition make any thing out of it,? Please write me soon,5Your friendRobert Boal
3Lincoln wrote various letters in November 1854 requesting his allies’ help in canvassing their local Illinois General Assembly members for support of his potential candidacy for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
Passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and its effective repeal of the Missouri Compromise had 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 reluctantly 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 first session of the 1855 Illinois House of Representatives, of which Boal was a member, commenced Monday, January 1, 1855.
Illinois House Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 3; Louis L. Emmerson, ed., Blue Book of the State of Illinois, 1923-1924 (Springfield: Illinois State Journal, 1923), 681.
5The state’s voters sent an anti-Nebraska majority to the Illinois General Assembly, in which Lincoln also won a seat. However, a member of the Illinois General Assembly could not run for the U. S. Senate, so in late-November 1854, Lincoln declined to serve in order to run for the U.S. Senate. Democrat Jonathan McDaniel won Lincoln’s vacated seat in the Illinois House of Representatives in the special election held on December 23, 1854. McDaniel’s victory did not help Lincoln’s cause in the election for Senate, as McDaniel cast his vote initially for James Shields and later for Joel A. Matteson. Ultimately, Lincoln did not win election to the U.S. Senate; the Illinois General Assembly selected anti-Nebraska Democrat Lyman Trumbull instead. Boal cast his vote for Lincoln on nine ballots before switching to Trumbull on the final ballot. See 1854 Federal Election.
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; David Herbert Donald, Lincoln, 167-73; Autobiography of Abraham Lincoln Written for John L. Scripps; 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; The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 23 December 1854, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1854-12-23; Ill. Const. of 1848, art. III, § 7; Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55.
Autograph Letter Signed, 3 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).