Thomas A. Marshall to Abraham Lincoln, 8 December 18541Charleston Ill. Decr 8 1854A Lincoln Esqr[Esquire]Dear Sir
Since receiving your favor of 4th inst. I have had a conversation with Mr Jones on the subject of his vote for Senator & find that he is for you, tho he seems to make it a matter of pride not to commit himself, Watson I do not often see, as he lives in the North part of the county, should I see him I will talk with him on the subject2 He may be influenced by Ben Bond & I dont know who he is for–
Our people here are all for you & if necessary we can get up a public meeting, to instruct our Senator & Representative & the subject3
Hoping you great SuccessI remain Yours &c[etc.]T. A Marshall
2Abraham Lincoln’s letter to Marshall of December 4, 1854 has not been located, but was likely similar to others he wrote around that time requesting his allies’ help in canvassing their 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. Lincoln won election to the Illinois House of Representatives in the 1854 election, but declined the seat in late November in order to run for U.S. Senate.
Abraham Lincoln to Hugh Lamaster; William H. Randolph to Abraham Lincoln; Robert Boal to Abraham Lincoln; John E. McClun to Abraham Lincoln; David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1995), 167-73; Autobiography of Abraham Lincoln Written for John L. Scripps; Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 10 November 1854, 2:5.
3The General Assembly met in a joint session on February 8, 1855, to make their selection for the U.S. Senate. In the first round of voting, Lincoln received forty-five of the ninety-nine votes cast, but as no candidate received a majority of votes, several more rounds of balloting ensued. After the ninth vote, with his share of votes declining, Lincoln dropped out of contention and urged his remaining supporters to vote for anti-Nebraska Democrat Lyman Trumbull to ensure that an anti-Nebraska candidate would be elected. Albert G. Jones voted for Lincoln in the first nine ballots and after Lincoln dropped out, voted for Trumbull. William D. Watson voted for Lincoln in the first seven votes then broke for Trumbull in the final three rounds of voting. Trumbull won a majority of votes in the tenth round and became Illinois’ next U.S. Senator. See the 1854 Federal Election.
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; Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55; Abraham Lincoln to Elihu B. Washburne.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).