Elihu B. Washburne to Abraham Lincoln, 6 May 18581
My Dear Sir:
No republican M.[Member]C. wrote any such letter as alledged, except myself. Just read over again what Wentworth wrote you about it, and then read the original letter, which Wilson has returned to me, and which I enclose.2
You will see it was a familiar, private letter, and that I called you “Old Abe,” a soubriquet Lisle Smith gave you, in old Whig times.3 You can show it to such friends as know of Wentworth’s letter to you, and then return
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it to me. It is proper to say S. L. Baker, Esq.[Esquire] is the “reliable republican” Wentworth referred to, and he says he never represented the letter as being what W. charged, and I have no doubt it is so.4 It was a lie, made out of whole cloth, as you will perceive.
Very Truly,
Yours &c[etc],
E B Washburne5Hon. A. Lincoln

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E B Washburne
M C[Member Congress]WASHINGTON CY[CITY] D.C.
Hon. A. LincolnSpringfield, Illinois.
[ docketing ]
1Elihu B. Washburne wrote and signed this letter, including the address and signed frank on the envelope.
2In a letter of April 19, 1858 to Lincoln, John Wentworth conveyed a rumor that one of the Republican members of the U.S. Congress from Illinois had written a letter encouraging Illinois Republicans to support Stephen A. Douglas’ bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 1858. Abraham Lincoln wrote Washburne regarding the rumor on April 26, excerpting a portion of Wentworth’s letter, and assuring Washburne that although suspicion centered on him, Lincoln was confident the matter was a misunderstanding.
The letter in controversy was one written by Washburne to Charles L. Wilson on April 12, 1858. Washburne retrieved the letter from Wilson and enclosed the manuscript original here for Lincoln’s edification. Washburne requested its return in a subsequent letter, stating that he anticipated needing to show it to others as proof of his innocence in the matter. Lincoln returned the letter, and Washburne eventually gave it back to Wilson. The manuscript original of the letter has not been located, but it was subsequently published in the Polo Advertiser in 1860.
In this letter to Wilson, Washburne expressed his confusion over the current state of politics in Illinois in light of the rift in the Democratic Party between supporters of Douglas and supporters of President James Buchanan, which was caused by Douglas’ criticism of the Lecompton Constitution and of the president’s support of it. Washburne stated that despite his dislike of Douglas, he would welcome him as an ally to the Republican Party, but expressed concern over whether there was a movement to create a Douglas party in Illinois and an attempt to reelect Douglas. Republicans should not abandon their platform, wrote Washburne, and their candidate for U.S. Senate in the election of 1858 must be Lincoln.
Russell K. Nelson, “The Early Life and Congressional Career of Elihu B. Washburne” (PhD dissertation, University of North Dakota, August 1953), 159-62; Charles L. Wilson to Elihu B. Washburne, 3 May 1858, E. B. Washburne Papers: Bound Volumes, Letters Received; 1857, Aug. 10-1858, Aug. 8, Manuscript/Mixed Material, https://www.loc.gov/resource/mss44651.003/?sp=203&st=image, accessed 22 February 2024; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:445-50.
3Later in life, Washburne would recall first hearing this nickname bestowed on Lincoln by S. Lisle Smith in July, 1847, when Lincoln was a delegate from Sangamon County to the River and Harbor Convention in Chicago.
Allen Thorndike Rice, ed., Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln by Distinguished Men of His Time (New York: North American, 1886), 16; The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 5 July 1847, https://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1847-07-05.
4Charles H. Ray wrote to Washburne a few days before the date of this letter and informed him that Wilson had shown Washburne’s letter of April 12 to Samuel L. Baker, who then told Wentworth about it.
Charles H. Ray to Elihu B. Washburne, 2 May [1858], E. B. Washburne Papers: Bound Volumes, Letters Received; 1861; Mar. 21-May 31, Manuscript/Mixed Material, https://www.loc.gov/resource/mss44651.017/?sp=227&st=image, accessed 22 February 2024.
5Prior to this letter of May 6, Washburne had written Lincoln another response explaining the matter on May 2, 1858. Lincoln responded to that letter on May 10, and to this letter on May 15, 1858.
6Lincoln wrote this docketing.

Autograph Letter Signed, 3 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).