J. Young Scammon to Abraham Lincoln, 16 December 18541Chicago, Decr. 16, 1854.Hon. A. Lincoln,Springfield, Ills.My dear Sir:
Illness and absence must be my apology for not replying to your letter before.2
I now write to acknowledge its receipt, and to say that I hope to see you before long, and to communicate personally with you.3As ever,
Truly Your Friend,J. Young Scammon
2Abraham Lincoln’s letter to Scammon has not been found. However, it was undoubtedly regarding Lincoln’s run for the U.S. Senate. 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. In November and December 1854, Lincoln wrote confidential letters to political allies seeking support for his candidacy and information about his prospects. 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.
David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1995), 167-73; William H. Randolph to Abraham Lincoln; Autobiography of Abraham Lincoln Written for John L. Scripps; Abraham Lincoln to Hugh Lamaster; Abraham Lincoln to Joseph Gillespie; Abraham Lincoln to Horace W. Fay; Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 10 November 1854, 2:5.
3Two days prior to this letter, on December 14, 1854, Lincoln had written to Elihu B. Washburne, concerned that he had not heard from his allies in Chicago. He wrote, “So far as I am concerned, there must be something wrong about U.S. Senator, at Chicago– My most intimate friends there do not answer my letters; and I can not get a word from them–”
Scammon and Lincoln were among the candidates when the General Assembly met in joint session on February 8, 1855, to elect a U.S. Senator. Neither Lincoln nor Scammon won the seat; the General Assembly selected anti-Nebraska Democrat Lyman Trumbull instead. See the 1854 Federal Election.
Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).