Hugh Lamaster to Abraham Lincoln, 11 December 18541Lewistown December 11th 1854Friend Lincoln
Yours of the 29 Ult was duely received and I have conversed with some of our most prominent (working) Whigs, and they all say elect A Lincoln to the USS, if an election can be had,2 I have not seen Judge Kellogg nor Rep Babcock but have written to Kellogg (& expect to receive his answer to night) I am satisfied the Judge will favor your election; in a conversation before the election he satisfied me on that score3
Now friend Lincoln what is the prospect of an election Will the Antis independant of the Neb[Nebraska] rascals be able to to elect;4 or more properly speaking will they Harmonize on all other questions or will they make that the great & only important question & go right into an election without a why or a wherefore; so as the candidate is right on that question I see some of our papers are trying to urge the claim of Dick.5 We all like Yates but he is young & we want some one that can stand right up to the little Giant (excuse me) it takes a great Blackguard6 (you know) to do that— And thou art (excuse again) the man
Now friend L go right into this business ^with all your might^ & I think if any Whig in the State can secure an election you can; but you must have an open field to do it, & as far as Fulton is concerned we will [Very Truly YoursHugh LamasterPS I will write again let me hear from you
...?] have it right Our Representative A C Babcock is a man of small stature but of pretty large intellect and a true whig he is a young man & no political experience but will soon learn his duty
<Page 2>PS I will write to you again in a few days I was absent from home ^a few days^ when your letter arrived which caused the delay in writing answering your letter7H L
1Hugh Lamaster wrote and signed this letter. He also wrote the name and address on the envelope, shown in the third image.
2Abraham Lincoln wrote on November 29, 1854, to inform Lamaster of his intention to enter the competition for a seat in the U.S. Senate and to request Lamaster’s assistance in ascertaining whether Amos C. Babcock, Judge William Kellogg, and John P. Boice would support Lincoln. Lincoln wrote similar letters to other political allies throughout November and December 1854.
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 unwillingly at first). As the election campaign reached its climax, his name began to circulate as a possible nominee to supplant James Shields as U.S. Senator.
Lincoln won election to the Illinois General Assembly, but, on November 25, 1854, he officially declined to serve in order to run for the U.S. Senate. Per Article III, Section seven of the 1848 Illinois Constitution, state legislators were ineligible for election to the U.S. Senate.
Abraham Lincoln to Joseph Gillespie; Abraham Lincoln to Horace W. Fay; Abraham Lincoln to Charles Hoyt; William H. Randolph 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; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:392; Ill. Const. of 1848, art. III, § 7.
3Judge Kellogg wrote Lincoln a letter on December 15 in reply to one Lincoln wrote him December 11. In his December 15 letter, Kellogg noted that he spoke with Babcock and found him inclined to support Lincoln for U.S. Senator, but only if no candidate emerged from Babcock’s area and if the Whig Party agreed upon Lincoln as the best candidate. Lincoln’s December 11, 1854 letter to Kellogg has not been located.
4“Antis” is a reference to those who were opposed to the Kansas-Nebraska Act. “Neb rascals” is a reference to those who supported the act. See the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
5During the election of 1854, Richard Yates sought reelection as representative of the Sixth Congressional District, but lost to Democrat Thomas L. Harris by 200 votes.
Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 10.
6A blackguard is someone regarded as a scoundrel, or a disreputable man who utilizes course speech and manners.
John S. Farmer, ed., Slang and Its Analogues, Past and Present (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 1890), 1:212.
7No other correspondence between Lincoln and Lamaster has been located.
Ultimately, Lincoln did not win election to the U.S. Senate; the Illinois General Assembly selected anti-Nebraska Democrat Lyman Trumbull instead. Kellogg was nominated as a candidate in the first round of voting. The sole vote he received was from Babcock, then Kellogg did not appear as a candidate in subsequent rounds of voting. Babcock switched his vote to Lincoln for votes two through five, supported Orville H. Browning in round six of voting, then once again supported Lincoln in rounds seven and eight. In the final two rounds of voting, Babcock supported the ultimate victor, Trumbull. Stung and disappointed by his loss, Lincoln made no political speeches or public statements for an entire year after his defeat and reinvested his energies in his law practice.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, 1:401-2; David Herbert Donald, Lincoln, 185; Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55.
Autograph Letter Signed, 3 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).