David Davis to Abraham Lincoln, 27 December 18541
Dear Lincoln
I have just recd[received] a line from Mrs Fisher (Rachel Colton) of Beloit2
She writes as follows.
"Beloit, Monday Eve[Evening]
Decr 18th 1854.
Dear Mr Davis.
Your kind letter deserves an immediate answer & although I am as little interested in politics as you can possibly conceive, I will for your sake do the best I can– My husband says that Mr Talcott is a red hot abolitionist— & that his preference in voting for Senator would be an old fashioned free Soiler– He is a very estimable man, however— but of his opinions of Mr L we know nothing–3
He is from home just now, but Mr Fisher wishes me to say to you, that he will see him before he starts for Springfield, ascertain his opinion & use his influence with him in favor of Mr Lincoln– Mr Fisher, holds Mr Lincoln in so high esteem, that he would do any thing in his power towards contributing to so desirable an end as making him U.S. Senator–
Mr F. will write you as soon as he has seen Mr Talcott–"
I thought it best to give you her own words, so that you could judge for yourself–

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I have just seen Mr Temple– He says— the member in Chicago who told Mr Elliott4 of this place & (who I think is his brother in Law) that he would vote for you— is "Foss"–
It occurred in this wise– Foss was talking with Elliott, as to where he should board in Springfield– Elliott told him— "write Lincoln & he will find you a boarding place"– "Foss replied that is the man that I am going to vote for for U.S. Senate"
I think this is true–5
I wrote you that John S. Wright of Chicago told me while in Chicago— that "Dunlap" is for you–6
I should have gone into the Tribune & Journal office while in Chicago— but really don't know either of the Editors–7
Swett says— he ascertained while he was gone— that the "Tribune" was not for you— but for Judge Lockwood

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I wrote you yesterday & Swett also wrote you an act[account] of his trip–8
Dont let Broadwell's defeat ex discourage you–
Some men will say— Don Morrison— for instance— "Damn Springfield– the Whigs have behaved so shamefully that they ought to be punished & Lincoln should not be elected–
It will cause you mortification and a world of explanation— but keep up spirits & courage— & you will go through, I think–9
I wrote you on yesterday my views about elections officers–10
Write me this week11
Truly Yr[Your] friendD Davis
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BLOOMINGTON Ills.[Illinois]
DEC[December] 27
Hon A. LincolnAttorney at LawSpringfieldIllinois.
[ docketing ]
Hon. D. Davis12
[ docketing ]
Dec 27/54[1854]13
1David Davis wrote and signed this letter, including the address on the envelope shown in the fourth image.
2On December 15, Davis wrote Abraham Lincoln informing Lincoln that he had written to Mrs. Rachel Fisher (née Colton) on Lincoln’s behalf, to learn how her husband, Lucius G. Fisher, thought specific members of the Illinois General Assembly would vote in the upcoming election for U.S. senator.
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, his name began to circulate as a possible nominee to supplant Democratic incumbent James Shields as U.S. Senator from Illinois.
Lincoln won election to the Illinois General Assembly, but, on November 25, 1854, officially declined to serve in order to run for the U.S. Senate. Per article three, section seven of the 1848 Illinois Constitution, state legislators were ineligible for election to the U.S. Senate.
Davis wrote Lincoln at least three letters on the topic of Lincoln’s senatorial prospects prior to this December 27 letter.
David Davis to Abraham Lincoln; David Davis to Abraham Lincoln; David Davis to Abraham Lincoln; William H. Randolph to Abraham Lincoln; David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), 167-73; Autobiography of Abraham Lincoln Written for John L. Scripps; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:392; Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 10 November 1854, 2:5; Ill. Const. of 1848, art. III, § 7.
3Voters in Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, and Carroll counties had elected Wait Talcott to the Illinois Senate, making his preference for a senatorial candidate important for Lincoln to know.
Thomas B. Talcott, Wait Talcott’s brother, wrote Lincoln on December 14, that his brother was “an abolitionist of the Lovejoy stamp” and that the prospects of him voting for Lincoln were “not flattering.”
Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 2 January 1855, 2:3.
4Mr. Elliott could not be positively identified.
5No correspondence between Robert H. Foss and Lincoln has been located for either 1854 or 1855.
6On December 15, Davis wrote Lincoln about a conversation he had with John S. Wright in Chicago.
7Thomas A. Stewart was editor of the Chicago Tribune in the fall of 1854, and Stephen J. Staples was assistant editor.
The editors of the Chicago Journal in 1854 were Richard L. Wilson, Charles L. Wilson, and C. H. Morris.
Franklin William Scott, Newspapers and Periodicals of Illinois, 1814-1879, vol. 6 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1910), 57, 59; Chicago Tribune (IL), 30 September 1854, 1:1; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Ward 7, Chicago, Cook County, IL, 334; Chicago Journal (IL), 3 October 1854, 1:1.
8In mid-December 1854, Leonard Swett made at least two trips to northern Illinois to ascertain whether specific individuals would support Lincoln as a candidate for U.S. senator. Swett wrote Lincoln on December 22, after Swett’s visit to Joliet, Illinois and Ottawa, Illinois. Swett noted that Alexander McIntosh believed that the Chicago Tribune secretly supported Samuel D. Lockwood for U.S. Senator.
Swett’s December 22 letter was one of at least three letters he wrote Lincoln on the topic of Lincoln’s senatorial prospects.
9Davis is discussing anti-Nebraska Whig Norman M. Broadwell’s loss to Democrat Jonathan McDaniel in the special election that was held December 23 to fill the vacancy that Lincoln left in the Illinois House of Representatives when he declined to serve. McDaniel triumphed over Broadwell by a small margin of less than 100 votes. This reversal of the anti-Nebraska victory that Lincoln’s election had constituted upset anti-Nebraska politicians throughout Illinois.
In the election of 1854, the voters of Monroe and St. Clair counties elected James L. D. Morrison to the Illinois Senate, placing him in a position to vote upon Illinois’ next U.S. senator. Once a loyal Whig, Morrison eventually withdrew his support for Lincoln’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat and shifted his allegiance to the Democratic Party.
Illinois State Register (Springfield), 6 January 1855, 4:1, 4; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, 1:392-93; Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 2 January 1855, 2:3; List of Members of the Illinois Legislature in 1855; Elihu B. Washburne to Abraham Lincoln; David Herbert Donald, Lincoln, 183.
10In his letter of December 26, Davis suggested a strategy for the election of officers in the next Illinois House of Representatives.
11No correspondence from Lincoln to Davis has been located for the entire year of 1854.
Ultimately, Lincoln did not win election to the U.S. Senate; the Illinois General Assembly selected anti-Nebraska Democrat Lyman Trumbull instead. Talcott voted for Lincoln for the first six ballots, then shifted to William B. Ogden, before moving to Trumbull in the ninth ballot. Foss supported Lincoln in the first three ballots before shifting between Archibald Williams, Ogden, and back to Lincoln before siding with Trumbull on the ninth ballot. Morrison cast his first six ballots for Shields before switching his support to Joel A. Matteson. No one nominated Lockwood for senator.
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; Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 1st sess., 242-55; David Herbert Donald, Lincoln, 185.
12Lincoln wrote this docketing.
13An unknown person wrote this docketing.

Autograph Letter Signed, 4 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).