Elihu B. Washburne to Abraham Lincoln, 21 December 18541Dec. 21.Dear Sir:
I expect you will tired of receiving letters from me. I got a letter last night from Dr. Ray the editor of the anti-Nebraska locofoco paper in Galena.2 He is now in the State of N.Y. and says he is going to Springfield to be at the election of U.S.S. He is agt.[against] you and is for some Anti-Nebraska Democrat.3
I am afraid he will hurt you if he keeps in his present mind, but I have written him a long letter, and I guess he will stop talking till he gets to S[Springfield]. He is in reality for the man who will be of the most service to him. He looks for an overthrow of the powers that be, and he wants friends in that contingency. I have told him to see you the first man and say to you that heE B W
<Page 2>has heard from me. I think you can have him for you, as you understand his position. Verbum Sat.4
2Washburne is referring to the Galena Jeffersonian.
Reinhard H. Luthin, “Abraham Lincoln Becomes a Republican,” Political Science Quarterly 59 (September 1944): 423.
3Passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and its effective repeal of the Missouri Compromise reawakened Abraham 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. 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. See the 1854 Federal Election.
Charles H. Ray opposed Lincoln’s candidacy. He wrote to Washburne on December 16, 1854, “I cannot well go in for Lincoln or anyone of his tribe. I have little faith in the strength of their anti-slavery sentiments.” Ray was equally explicit in a letter dated December 24: “I must confess I am afraid of ‘Abe.’ He is Southern by birth, Southern in his associations and Southern, if I mistake not, in his sympathies. . . His wife, you know, is a Todd, of a pro-slavery family, and so are all his kin. My candidate must be like Caesor’s wife—not only not suspected, but above suspicion.” Despite his reservations, Ray soon decided that Lincoln was in fact the best choice for the anti-slavery Republicans and advised his friends to support Lincoln for the Senate.
David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1995), 167-73; Autobiography of Abraham Lincoln Written for John L. Scripps; William H. Randolph to Abraham Lincoln; Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 10 November 1854, 2:5; Charles H. Ray to Elihu B. Washburne, E. B. Washburne Papers: Bound Volumes, Letters Received; Aug. 5. 1852, Aug. 18-1857., Manuscript/Mixed Material, 16 December 1854, https://www.loc.gov/resource/mss44651.002/?sp=95&st=image; 24 December 1854, https://www.loc.gov/resource/mss44651.002/?sp=108&st=image, accessed 28 June 2022; Emmet F. Pearson, Charles Henry Ray: Illinois Medical Truant, Journalist, and Lincoln King-Maker (Springfield, IL: Dept. of Medical Humanities, Southern Illinois University, School of Medicine, 1983), 9-10.
4A Latin phrase meaning “a word is sufficient,” shortened from the phrase verbum sat sapienti, or “a word to the wise is sufficient.”
Lincoln and Washburne carried on an extensive correspondence during the senatorial campaign.
The Illinois General Assembly met in a joint session on February 8, 1855, to make their selection for the state’s U.S. Senator. 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. Trumbull won the seat. See the 1854 Federal Election.
Jon R. Stone, The Routledge Dictionary of Latin Quotations (New York: Routledge, 2005), 124; Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55; 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; Elihu B. Washburne to Abraham Lincoln; Elihu B. Washburne to Abraham Lincoln; Elihu B. Washburne to Abraham Lincoln; Abraham Lincoln to Elihu B. Washburne; Elihu B. Washburne to Abraham Lincoln; Abraham Lincoln to Elihu B. Washburne; Abraham Lincoln to Elihu B. Washburne; Elihu B. Washburne to Abraham Lincoln; Elihu B. Washburne to Abraham Lincoln; Elihu B. Washburne to Abraham Lincoln; Abraham Lincoln to Elihu B. Washburne; Elihu B. Washburne to Abraham Lincoln; Elihu B. Washburne to Abraham Lincoln; Elihu B. Washburne to Abraham Lincoln; Abraham Lincoln to Elihu B. Washburne.
Autograph Letter Signed, 3 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).