Thomas J. Turner to Abraham Lincoln, 10 December 18541Freeport Dec 10th 1854Hon. A LincolnDear Sir
I am not committed to any one for the office of U.S. Senator, nor do I intend to be untill I know where I can exert my influence the most successfully against those who are seeking to extend the era of Slavery–2Respectfully YoursThos J Turner
2No letter from Abraham Lincoln to Turner to which this is a response has been found. Turner may have been responding to a letter from Lincoln similar to those that Lincoln wrote to other newly-elected members of the Illinois General Assembly in November and December of 1854 soliciting their support for his potential candidacy for 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.
The General Assembly met in a joint session on February 8, 1855, to make their selection for the U.S. Senate. In the first two rounds of voting, Turner, speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, cast his vote for Lincoln. Turner cast no votes in the third through the ninth rounds of balloting. After nine rounds of voting no candidate had achieved a majority of votes, and with his own share of votes declining Lincoln dropped out and urged his supporters to vote for anti-Nebraska Democrat Lyman Trumbull in order to ensure that an anti-Nebraska politician filled the seat. Turner rejoined the voting in the tenth and final round to cast his ballot for Trumbull, who won. See the 1854 Federal Election.
Abraham Lincoln to Thomas J. Henderson; Abraham Lincoln to Hugh Lamaster; Richard B. Servant to Abraham Lincoln; William H. Randolph to Abraham Lincoln; Robert Boal to Abraham Lincoln; John E. McClun to Abraham Lincoln; Thomas J. Henderson to Abraham Lincoln; Hugh Lamaster to Abraham Lincoln; Abraham Lincoln to Elihu B. Washburne; David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1995), 167-73; Autobiography of Abraham Lincoln Written for John L. Scripps; 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 Daily Journal (Springfield), 10 November 1854, 2:5; Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55; Illinois House Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 5; Abraham Lincoln to Elihu B. Washburne.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).