Oliver L. Davis to Abraham Lincoln, 3 June 18581Danville 3 June 1858Dear Sir
Before receiving your letter of 20 ult: Mr Rives had written to me in answer to my suggestions in reference to Marshall as the candidate for the Senate. He agrees that Tom can do more than any one else with the Fillmorites and is for him with a will2
This morning I received a letter from Marshall in answer to one written to him weeks ago. He will be the candidate. He has arranged matters satisfactorily with Newman3 and Blackburn, and so far as I know there is no one on our side in the field against him4
I will be unable, on account of certain family arrangements, to attend the Convention at Springfield.5
I have had a talk with Fithian. The idea of Marshall being the candidate takes well with him.
I could not consent to be a candidate for the Senate unless success depended upon it. Everything is right now I believe. I close hastily to be in time for the mail.Yours trulyO. L. Davis6Hon A Lincoln
2Abraham Lincoln’s letter to Davis of May 20, 1858, has not been located. Lincoln had met with Davis in April of 1858 and written to Thomas A. Marshall and George W. Rives about the same time requesting that the three men cooperate to select a viable Republican candidate for the Eighteenth District of the Illinois Senate, which included Coles, Cumberland, Edgar, and Vermilion counties. Lincoln’s preference was that they find a candidate who had supported American Party presidential candidate Millard Fillmore in the election of 1856.
3Davis may have been referring to B. Newman, a delegate to the 1858 Illinois State Republican Convention from Coles County. This was possibly itinerant Methodist Episcopal minister Benjamin Newman (1817-1880), who was assigned to a church in Mattoon in 1857 and around the same time laid out his namesake town of Newman in the portion of Coles County that subsequently became Douglas County.
The Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 2 June 1858, 2:2; A. T. Andreas, History of Chicago (Chicago: A. T. Andreas, 1885), 2:506; Minutes of the Annual Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church 6 (), 517; John Gresham, comp., Historical and Biographical Record of Douglas County Illinois (Logansport, IN: Wilson, Humphreys, 1900), 116.
4Although Lincoln had advocated for the selection a Fillmore supporter as Illinois Senate candidate for the Eighteenth District, Marshall had supported John C. Fremont in the election of 1856 and had assisted Lincoln in his efforts to recruit Fillmore supporters to the Republican cause in that year. Marshall was elected to the Illinois Senate on November 2, 1858, defeating Democrat Usher F. Linder.
5Davis is apparently referencing the pregnancy of his wife, Sarah M. Cunningham Davis. The couple’s daughter Jennie Elizabeth Davis was born on July 2, 1858. The 1858 Illinois Republican Convention took place in Springfield on June 16, 1858.
Anne Mims Wright, comp., A Record of the Descendants of Isaac Ross and Jean Brown (Jackson, MS: Consumers Stationery and Printing, 1911), 145-46; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 17 June 1858, 2:2-6.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).