Josiah M. Lucas to Abraham Lincoln, 3 May 18581
A. Lincoln,Dear Sir—
Now, I do not intend that, you shall forget there is such a being as your humble servant, nor do I intend to be classed with the "unwashed", because of the fact that I have been kept in Office by them.2 No sir, I am as far from it as ever I was. To become one is not in my nature– I might as well attempt to turn the Mississippi up stream. There is no aspect in which I can view them in but the same characteristics, as in days past, present themselves. I am still Whig—whig all over, I have seen nothing to induce me to change my opinions but more than enough to confirm them. The ostensible object of locofocoism is now, as it has ever been— "public plunder", by that "cohesion" they are held together. Any thing can be done ^served up^, however disgusting, if in the name of democracy, is gulped down by their followers with a gusto that to a genuine whig is exceedingly nauseating. If such men as the "little giant" & Co[Company]. sicken at the strange spices thrown into their filthy pottage, how is it to be supposed that any man who has ever been a Whig from principle, can partake of their cookery^?^ Maj H. also says he is "di[s?]gus," as the Frenchman said, and as far as Lecompton is concerned, is in opposition to the administration and with the rest of the Democrats from our state are classed by the Administration as no better than Black Reps.–3
But such men as Don, Little Red, of Quincy, Slushpot of Coles,4 ^Revd[Reverend]^ Irish Yankee, now of St. Louis, corporal Slim, of M—
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and a certain old "inhabitant," six feet four when he is straight, which, I am told he is seldom known to be,—5 by a jug full, since he has become a convert to "patent democracy"—6 one of whose symbols it is a mysterious looking barrel with red and or blue heads,— through which he is said to see divers and sundry queer looking things, that have so unexpectedly, and to the great sorrow of weeping friends draws drawn him away from those who loved and honored him as a Whig; and ^also^ some pious souls not a thousand miles from where you stand, whose word with the Spring creek whigs (I may misscall the name of the Creek)7 was ^upon a time^ implicitly relied on, have sold their birth-right! I will bet a h[a?]ss cake they is^too are ^ swindled? Shelbyville, I learn has had some "inquiring mourners"— they too have seen new lights, and after nine days their eyes opened upon new beauties, and ^but^ before they had time to finish their oaths of allegiance to old Buck, and publish it to the world their spiritual adviser was pronounced base coin, "by authority”, and pronounced ^also worse than^ an "Arnold"— and cut adrift, as dead wood— read out of the party! What a dilema these poor unfortunates are in!8
A man situated as I am, must not quarrel with his bread. I know very well that I am watched, and have been for years by a pack of hyenas, in the garb of friendship. A whisper of opposition will consign me to the "headsman", in two minutes, he is required to proclaim "great is Mehomed".9 My course is to play "shut pan",10 knowing even then I11 is ^am^ set down as unsound on "the goose".12 If forced to say something I plant myself upon that part of the platform favoring the Pacific R. Road, upon that plank I am sound to the core!13
The Democrats, as a general thing ^think^ the next Congress will be against the administration largely, and many think they are "goners" in 1860.14

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If you manage right, you can carry the State easy. I hope to be home in time to see it done. Fight for the legislature— that gained the work is more than half done. By the way, I met Kellogg, Washburn &c[etc.] a few days since and we unanimously, agreed and will insist that, you must fill the next senatorial chair from Illi,— All agreed that to you more than ^to^ any ^to^ other man in the state was ^entitled^ the position. So you see if it is left to us the thing is as good as did, and I may add, that I believe it will come to pass.15
Though absent from home I am pretty well posted in what is going on in Illinois.
I live within a few doors of Gov Seward, and know him very well— he speaks of you as the man, if the Reps succeed, and he is quite sanguine. Any documents y or speeches you may want I can get for you, the Governor has always an assortment and offers me any quantity I can dispose of to advantage. He can beat any live man in the races of '60!
N. K. Sargeant alias “Oliver Old School”, called me aside the other day and disclosed a private plan, that a number of the opposition was favorable to, and asked my concurrence, viz: To nominate Edward Bates for Prest[President] and Simmons of R.I. for vice. He had no doubt that it would succeed,— that many of the leading men in and out of Washington would go into it. But as yet it was private, asked me to call at “the rooms”, which I promised to do.16 Please give this letter to the flames as soon as read— because there is any amount of treason in, which if known, would hand hand me over to such mercies as vultures give to lambs.
Colby Young and myself are the only monuments of mercy left in office from Illinois, who remain true to our ancient colors
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we can talk freely together— many are the resolves we make— but of course they like the "common law" are, unwritten— they keep us however, down to the lowest salary and work us to the utt utmost of our strength, which, fortunately, we are both able to endure. But how long we shall be able to keep our positions— poor as they are is uncertain. Colby wishes to be remembered to you.
I insist upon your writing me a few lines.
truly your friendJ. M. LucasHon A. LincolnSpringfield Ills.P.S. There is a man here from Springfield by the name of Francis—17 he is expecting to get Connellys place— he looks like the breaking up of a hard winter. Nye is also here he told me he was going to get— I believe, the Marshalship.18

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E B Washburne
M C[Member Congress]19
Hon A. LincolnSpringfieldIllinois20
[ docketing ]
J[os?] M. Lucas21
[ docketing ]
1Josiah M. Lucas wrote and signed this letter. He also wrote the postscript shown in the fourth image.
2Although it is unclear what federal position Lucas held in Washington, DC at the time of this letter, he worked as a clerk in the U.S. General Land Office during the reign of Democratic administrations. Since federal jobs were controlled by the political party in power and awarded on a patronage basis, as a Whig Lucas was constantly in danger of losing his appointment to someone affiliated with and loyal to the Democratic Party.
Josiah M. Lucas to Abraham Lincoln; Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1853 (Washington, DC: Robert Armstrong, 1853), 134; Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1855 (Washington, DC: A. O. P. Nicholson, 1855), 78; Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1857 (Washington, DC: A. O. P. Nicholson, 1857), 79; Michael F. Holt, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 416-18.
3Stephen A. Douglas’ criticism of President James Buchanan’s support for the Lecompton Constitution created rifts in the Democratic Party, with some supporting Douglas’ actions and others supporting Buchanan’s. Concerned about his bid for reelection to the U.S. Senate in the 1858 Federal Election in light of these rifts, Douglas courted political support from Republicans. For more information on the Lecompton Constitution, see Bleeding Kansas.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:445-48.
4"Little Red of Quincy" might be a reference to Isaac N. Morris, who represented Quincy, Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives. "Slushpot of Coles" might be a reference to Aaron Shaw, who represented Coles County, Illinois in that same body.
Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1996 (Alexandria, VA: CQ Staff Directories, 1997), 1554, 1809; George Washington Smith, A History of Southern Illinois (Chicago and New York: Lewis, 1912), 1:257.
5Neither the Reverend “Irish Yankee,” “corporal Slim,” nor the “old inhabitant” could be positively identified.
6“Patent Democracy” appears to have been a phrase employed throughout the U.S. beginning in the early decades of the nineteenth century to describe those loyal to the current Democratic administration (as opposed to any peripheral faction or factions of the party). Later, it was also often used as a general descriptor for any representative or element of the Democratic Party that purported to represent the values, policies, or perspectives of the “true” Democratic Party.
Philip S. Klein, “Early Lancaster County Politics,” A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies 3 (April 1936), 104; The Liberator (Boston, MA), 22 January 1841, 3:3; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield, IL), 12 May 1856, 2:2; The New-York Times (New York, NY), 27 July 1859, 8:1.
7Lucas may be referring to Spring Creek, Illinois.
8Some Republicans were excited by Douglas’ repudiation of the Lecompton Constitution to the extent that they considered supporting his reelection to the U.S. Senate. Abraham Lincoln and other Republicans were concerned by this possibility and urged fellow party members to remain loyal in the upcoming election.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, 1:446-48.
9Lucas references the stereotype that conversions to Islam occurred or occur mainly “by the sword,” or under threat of death. This is known as the “conversion by the sword thesis,” the validity of which many religious scholars dispute.
Juan E. Campo, ed., Encyclopedia of Islam(New York: Facts on File, 2009), xxix, xxxii.
10“Shut pan” was a colloquial expression for closing or shutting one’s mouth.
Richard H. Thornton, An American Glossary, Being an Attempt to Illustrate Certain Americanisms Upon Historical Principles (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1912), 2:795.
11“I” written over “he”
12To be “sound on the goose” or “all right on the goose” was an expression popularized during the era of Bleeding Kansas and used primarily in the southwestern United States. Someone “sound on the goose” was pro-slavery.
John R. Bartlett, Dictionary of Americanisms: A Glossary of Words and Phrases Usually Regarded as Peculiar to the United States (Boston: Little and Brown, 1859), 175, 430.
13The creation and construction of a transcontinental railroad from the eastern coast of the United States to the Pacific Ocean had been a popular political topic since the mid-nineteenth century, and, during their 1856 national conventions, both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party created political platforms that advocated for the construction of a transcontinental railroad.
David M. Potter and Don E. Fehrenbacher, The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861 (New York: Harper & Row, 1976), 146; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 24 June 1856, 2:2; Daily Illinois State Register (Springfield) 10 June 1856, 2:4.
14For details on the impacts of the elections of 1856 and 1860 on the composition of the U.S. Congress, see the 1856 Federal Election and the 1860 Federal Election.
15At the time, members of the Illinois General Assembly voted for and elected the state’s representatives in the U.S. Senate; therefore, the races for the Illinois House of Representatives and Illinois Senate were highly relevant to the outcome of the state’s U.S. Senate race.
Allen C. Guelzo, “House Divided: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Political Landscape of 1858,” The Journal of American History 94 (September 2007), 394.
16Edward Bates indeed later competed to become the Republican Party’s nominee for president in the 1860 federal election. During the 1860 Republican National Convention, however, Bates’ share of the vote dropped in each round of voting and Lincoln ultimately won the party’s nomination. James F. Simmons never entered the running for the party’s vice presidential nominee; the party nominated Hannibal Hamlin as Lincoln’s running mate.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, 1:622-24.
17Francis could not be positively identified.
18Following Douglas’s criticism of Buchanan’s support for the Lecompton Constitution, Buchanan purged many Douglas supporters from federal patronage appointments in Illinois. In February 1858, Buchanan removed James W. Davidson from his appointment as U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Illinois and replaced him with Iram Nye. In May 1858, he removed John Connelly, Sr. as register of the United States Land Office in Springfield and replaced him with William E. Keefer.
Lincoln replied to this letter on May 10. Lucas wrote Lincoln at least three more letters related to the election of 1858.
In the election of 1858, Republicans won a majority of the votes cast, yet pro-Douglas Democrats retained control of the Illinois General Assembly. The final vote tally gave Democrats a majority of forty to thirty-five in the Illinois House of Representatives and a majority of fourteen to eleven in the Illinois Senate, and, ultimately, Douglas won reelection to the U.S. Senate. Through the campaign, however, and in particular through his participation in the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Lincoln gained national recognition as well as standing within the national Republican Party.
The Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 9 June 1858, 2:2; Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1859 (Washington, DC: William A. Harris, 1859), 84; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 1 March 1858, 2:1; 13 November 1858, 2:3; Josiah M. Lucas to Abraham Lincoln; Josiah M. Lucas to Abraham Lincoln; Josiah M. Lucas to Abraham Lincoln; Allen C. Guelzo, “House Divided: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Political Landscape of 1858,” 395-96, 414-16; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, 1:556-57.
19Elihu B. Washburne wrote this docketing.
20Lucas wrote Lincoln’s name and address, shown on the envelope in the fifth image.
21Lincoln wrote this docketing.
22Lincoln also wrote this docketing.

Autograph Letter Signed, 5 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC)