Elihu B. Washburne to Abraham Lincoln, 20 January 18551H. of R.
Jany. 20. 1855.Dear Sir:
Giddings has written another letter to Lovejoy, which he gave to me to read and send off, which I have done.2 He has also got a letter which Richmond of Chicago has written to him and Wade, wanting to know what his people had better do about Senator. He has written him referring to his letter to Lovejoy, I think his letter to L. will do you much good.3Yours. Very Truly,E B Washburne5Hon. A. Lincoln
2Washburne enlisted Joshua R. Giddings in the movement to get Abraham Lincoln elected to 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, he wrote confidential letters to political allies, seeking support for his candidacy and information about his prospects. He won a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives, but in late-November 1854, he declined to serve in order to run for the U.S. Senate. When the General Assembly met in a joint session on February 8, 1855, to elect a U.S. senator, ten rounds of voting were needed to finally determine a victor. Lincoln received a majority of the anti-Nebraska votes until the tenth and final ballot, when he withdrew and urged his supporters to vote for anti-Nebraska Democrat Lyman Trumbull in order to ensure that an anti-Nebraska politician filled the seat. With the votes of Lincoln’s supporters, Trumbull won the seat. See 1854 Federal Election.
Owen Lovejoy was elected to the Nineteenth Illinois House of Representatives representing Bureau County. Washburne and others believed that Lincoln needed the support of Lovejoy and other Free Soilers in the General Assembly to win the senatorial election, but they were concerned because Lovejoy held more radical views on the abolition of slavery than Lincoln. Jesse O. Norton and Washburne urged Lincoln to change his position on the Compromise of 1850 and the Fugitive Slave Law to improve his prospects among the Free Soilers. In a letter to Lincoln dated December 26, 1854, Washburne assured Lincoln that Joshua R. Giddings was writing Lovejoy with his views on Lincoln’s candidacy to be shared with Free Soilers in the General Assembly. When he learned that Lovejoy had not received Gidding’s letter, Washburne assured Lincoln that Giddings had telegraphed Lovejoy about the letter’s disposition. Lovejoy apparently never received Giddings first letter, prompting Gidding to write Lovejoy a second letter.
In a list of members of the Illinois General Assembly that Lincoln created around January 1855, Lincoln listed Lovejoy as an abolitionist--the only legislator so designated. Lovejoy voted for Lincoln on the first three ballots, then switched to William B. Ogden for four ballots, before settling on Trumbull on the eighth ballot.
The Free West (Chicago, IL), 14 December 1854, 2:3, 4-5; David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1995), 167-73; Louis L. Emmerson, ed., Blue Book of the State of Illinois, 1923-1924 (Springfield: Illinois State Journal, 1923), 681; 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; Jesse O. Norton to Abraham Lincoln; Stephen Hansen and Paul Nygard, “Stephen A. Douglas, the Know-Nothings, and the Democratic Party in Illinois, 1854-1858,” Illinois Historical Journal 87 (Summer 1994), 114; Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55.
3Thomas Richmond represented Cook County in the Nineteenth Illinois House of Representatives. In a list of members of the Illinois General Assembly, Lincoln listed Thomas Richmond as an anti-Nebraska Democrat. In the election for U.S. Senate, Richmond supported Lincoln until the ninth ballot, when he switched to Trumbull.
Louis L. Emmerson, ed., Blue Book of the State of Illinois, 1923-1924, 681; Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55.
4Washburne is undoubtedly referring to House Bill 295 to build a transcontinental railroad. The House tabled the bill, and the act to establish such a line was not passed until 1862.
U.S. House Journal. 1855. 33rd Cong., 2nd sess., 218; “An Act to Aid in the Construction of a Railroad and Telegraph Line from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean, and to Secure to the Government the Use of the Same for Postal, Military, and Other Purposes,” 1 July 1862, Statutes at Large of the United States 12 (1863):489-98.
5Lincoln and Washburne carried on an extensive correspondence during the senatorial campaign and exchanged numerous letters related to Lincoln’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate.
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Autograph Letter Signed, 1 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).