Elihu B. Washburne to Abraham Lincoln, 31 May 18581
My Dear Sir:
I have yours of the 27th inst. this morning, and reply hastily to say, in regard to Douglas, that there is no possibility of his giving us any trouble in the direction Medill fears.2 For the last month he has been “paddling” back to the administration with all his might and he has lost every particle of sympathy which our folks bore towards him during the Lecompton fight. He has ceased associating with our folks, but is very thick with the other side. He is understood to repudiate all sympathy
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with republicans and desires no support from them. Southern papers which so recently denounced him, are now praising him. But while his position has been thus f0r sometime back and there has been an appearance that “we are all democrats,”3 old Buck has been nursing his revenge, and you will have heard that the heads of your land officers have suddenly rolled into the basket, as well as old Fry’s at Chicago.4 The present look to me is, that we have nothing to do in our State, but to go right ahead as republicans, putting forward our own men every where, and fight the battle on our
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platform with energy and determination. I am never over sanguine in regard to election results, but it does seem to me now that it is impossible to beat you for the Senate. I pledge you that the glorious “old First” will be an unit for you in both branches.5
I much regret that I shall not be able to be at the State Convention, but after after our adjournment I have to go to New England after my family and that will not give me time to get home. Trumbull, Farnsworth, Lovejoy and Kellogg will be there.6 I look for entire harmony and wise action.

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All of our democratic members but Harris went into the Lecompton caucus for doorkeeper, and voted for the nominee. Harris holds out and shows fight “every pop.”7
Give my regards to Herndon, and excuse this hasty, running scrawl.
Truly, Yours,E B Washburne8Hon. A. Lincoln

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E B Washburne
M C[Member Congress]
MAY 31
Hon. A. Lincoln,Springfield,Illinois.
1Elihu B. Washburne wrote and signed this letter, including the address and signed frank on the envelope.
2In his letter to Washburne of May 27, 1858 Abraham Lincoln had relayed Joseph Medill’s concern, as conveyed in a letter Medill had written to William H. Herndon, that Stephen A. Douglas would win the support of Republicans in the party stronghold of northern Illinois by assuming a strong free soil position following his opposition to the Lecompton Constitution.
Douglas had criticized the Lecompton Constitution and President James Buchanan’s support of it in December 1857, causing a rift in the Democratic Party. Some Republicans were excited by Douglas’ repudiation of the Lecompton Constitution to the extent that they considered supporting his bid for reelection to the U.S. Senate in 1858. Although Douglas later denied it, he courted Republican support—meeting in person with prominent men such as Horace Greeley and hinting in correspondence to Republicans that he was finished with the Democratic Party. Lincoln and other Republicans were concerned by these developments and urged fellow party members to remain loyal in the upcoming election.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:445-50; Allen C. Guelzo, “Houses Divided: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Political Landscape of 1858,” The Journal of American History 94 (September 2007), 392-94.
3The phrase “we are all democrats” echoes Thomas Jefferson’s statement that “We are all republicans: we are all federalists” with which he called for national unity in his first inaugural address in 1801. In the wake of the split between Buchanan and Douglas Democrats over the Lecompton Constitution, the phrase was invoked by Democrats in 1858 to encourage or signal unity between the factions of their party, and was used by their opponents to mock examples of conflict between the factions.
Barbara B. Oberg et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006), 33:149; The Weekly Chicago Times (IL), 18 February 1858, 2:1; Chicago Daily Tribune (IL), 19 February 1858, 2:2; The Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 10 March 1858, 2:4; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 5 April 1858, 2:1; 12 April 1858, 2:2; 16 April 1858, 3:1; 21 April 1858, 2:1; 17 May 1858, 3:1.
4Buchanan’s removal of Douglas supporters from federal patronage appointments in Illinois in 1858 was seen as retaliation for Douglas’ break with the administration over the Lecompton Constitution. At the end of May 1858, Buchanan nominated William E. Keefer and Archer G. Herndon to replace John Connelly, Sr. and Edward Conner in the respective positions of register and receiver of public moneys of the United States Land Office in Springfield. Keefer and Herndon were confirmed on June 3, 1858. Buchanan’s nomination of Bolton F. Strother to replace Jacob Fry as collector of customs at the port of Chicago was also introduced in the U.S. Senate late in May 1858 and was confirmed on June 14, 1858.
Allen C. Guelzo, “Houses Divided: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Political Landscape of 1858,” 395; Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1887), 10:423, 424, 431, 457; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 9 June 1858, 2:2; 22 June 1858, 2:4.
5At this time the Illinois General Assembly elected the state’s representatives in the U.S. Senate, thus the outcome of races for the Illinois House of Representatives and Illinois Senate would be of importance to Lincoln’s proposed challenge of Douglas for the position of U.S. senator for Illinois in the election of 1858. The First Congressional District of Illinois, which Washburne represented in the U.S. House of Representatives, consisted of the Republican-leaning northernmost counties of the state, including Boone, Carroll, Jo Daviess, Lake, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, and Winnebago counties. Washburne’s pledge that Republicans would win the Illinois General Assembly races in these counties in 1858 proved to be correct. Eight seats in the Illinois House of Representatives and three seats in the Illinois Senate were up for election in the counties of the First Congressional District in 1858, and all were won by Republicans.
Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 10, 141-42; Allen C. Guelzo, “Houses Divided: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Political Landscape of 1858,” 392-93; Chicago Daily Press and Tribune (IL), 5 November 1858, 1:3.
6Subsequent to the composition of this letter, the date of adjournment of the first session of the Thirty-Fifth Congress was postponed to June 14, 1858, which affected the plans of Illinois’ Republican members of the U.S. Congress to attend the Illinois State Republican Convention in Springfield on June 16, 1858. Congressman John F. Farnsworth attended the convention as a delegate from Kane County, but Owen Lovejoy and William Kellogg were not listed as delegates at the convention and Lovejoy at least was still in Washington, DC as of June 14, when he attended a vote on the final day of the U.S. House of Representatives session. On June 14, President Buchanan issued a proclamation declaring that an “extraordinary occasion” required the U.S. Senate to convene for a special session on June 15. The Senate remained in session until June 16, preventing Senator Lyman Trumbull from attending the convention.
U.S. Senate Journal. 1858. 35th Cong., 1st sess., 595, 597, 604-5, 617, 651; U.S. Senate Journal. 1858. 35th Cong., 2nd special sess., 721; U.S. House Journal. 1858. 35th Cong., 1st sess., 1013-14, 1064-65, 1147; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 17 June 1858, 2:3; Lyman Trumbull to Abraham Lincoln; Lyman Trumbull to Abraham Lincoln.
7On May 17, 1858 the doorkeeper of the U.S. House of Representatives, Robert B. Hackney, was dismissed from office over a charge of corruption. Later that day House Democrats met in caucus to chose their nominee to replace Hackney. Joseph L. Wright, described variously as a Lecompton or administration Democrat, won a majority of votes on the third ballot of the Democratic caucus, after which his nomination was made unanimous. Wright was elected doorkeeper on May 18, receiving 117 out of 216 votes in a contest that largely followed Democratic and Republican party lines. Among the Illinois Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Isaac N. Morris, Aaron Shaw, Robert Smith, and Samuel S. Marshall all voted for Wright. The sole remaining Illinois Democratic representative, Thomas L. Harris, cast the single vote in the U.S. House of Representatives for Peter Gorman, a Douglas Democrat who had been considered in the Democratic caucus of the preceding evening, but who lost the party’s nomination to Wright. Illinois’ Republican members of the House, Washburne, Farnsworth, Lovejoy, and Kellogg all voted for Republican candidate Arthur W. Fletcher. In a previous letter to Lincoln, Washburne wrote that all the Illinois Democrats except Harris had voted for the Lecompton candidate despite a promise from Republicans to join them in electing an anti-Lecompton Democrat.
U.S. House Journal. 1858. 35th Cong., 1st sess., 832-33, 842-44; Evening Star (Washington, DC), 26 January 1858, 2:3; 18 May 1858, 2:2, 3; New-York Daily Tribune (NY), 19 May 1858, 4:2; Monmouth Democrat (Freehold, NJ), 20 May 1858, 2:3; Daily State Gazette and Republican (Trenton, NJ), 20 May 1858, 2:3; The Compiler (Gettysburg, PA), 24 May 1858, 2:3; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990, 10; Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1996 (Alexandria, VA: CQ Staff Directories, 1997), 155; J. Thomas Scharf, History of Western Maryland (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1882), 1:714-15.
8No response to this letter has been located.

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