Stephen G. Paddock and John H. Bryant to Abraham Lincoln, 4 June 18581
Honl[Honorable] Abram LincolnDear Sir
We deem it desirable that you should be informed of movements that have been developing themselves for some months in our Congressional District,2 because they are of such a character that the Party will inevitably be weakened if not entirely disrupted unless a decided change of policy takes place– We write as the friends of Mr Lovejoy in the present canvass and desire that fact to be borne in mind, allowing it to weigh all it may in judging of the value of our arguments and conclusions
Many prominent members of the Republican Party in their electioneering against Mr Lovejoys renomination are urging, and that principally, that it will never do to send him again on account of his "abolitionism"
They are harping upon his former alleged positions and political faith with as much zeal and unction as any Buchaneer could in a Campaign and they are continually plying republicans with the arguments that conservatism is more needed now than ever, that radical decided men must be rejected, and they even go so far as to state in direct terms that if Mr L. be renominated the State is lost and a Democrat Elected Senator.3
Our party is a composite one and has diverse elements whose tastes and feelings ought to be carefully handled until time renders us a homogenous mass, such arguments, or rather such appeals to old prejudices that ought to be forgotten, only serve to perpetuate our original diversities and to retard very much the complete fusion which must take place before we can hope to become a power in the land
Even granting all to be true that is said of Mr L's radical tendencies would not fairness and justice demand that those members of our party, of his old
<Page 2>
friends and followers who so squarely came up to the work and voted for Frémont, for Bissell, for Trumbull, for Miller, for Dubois &c[etc.] &c— and who are now universally preparing to vote so that you may be elected Senator, & who desire now the latter consummation as devoutly as they willingly aided those previously accomplished;4 would not fairness and justice, we say, demand that they should be allowed one of their peculiar cast from the number elected by the common vote?
We, for our part, reject that discrimination which enquires of the past the antecedents of any Republican of today, except so far as would relate to his honesty of purpose in calling himself Republican. We all doubtless, have acted in opposition to our present views, but when that great necessity became apparent to avert impending danger and gloom which threatened our Country5 with one accord we formed a common organization for a purpose which all could unite in effecting. It was supposed that such organization was honestly made, from high and noble motives, but if it shall appear that such was not the case, that it was a mere bargain gotten up by the "outs" to displace the "ins," a seeming peoples movement to restore government to its old ground, but really a mere political trick to benefit certain gentlemen out of office as against others in, the course of the movement has about been run, its downfall will be as speedy as its rise and as sure as fate.
It is undeniable that in the Northern half of our State quite a large and active portion of our party were formerly of the class termed Abolitionists and it is a question worthy our serious consideration whether that portion be not vital to the success of the party. If a close vote were anticipated would they
<Page 3>
have strength enough to affect the result, were it not used in the republican traces?
In our County, our position as members of the County Committee enables us to answer the questions for ourselves, we cannot lose their votes and retain supremacy, we only answer for our own County, but like causes must produce like effects in other Counties
As matters stand now we are a unit as to our choice for Senator, no instruction to our Representative6 would be needed to have him vote for Lincoln every time, and we earnestly hope that such a course may be pursued as shall render our vote efficient and crown it with success and that enough other Counties may be secured to render your election sure but if this old cry of abolitionism is to be harped upon by such prominent men in our ranks, if the determination become manifest on the part of the old whigs never to forget that word, never to cease opposition to those to whom it refers it will only require a short time to produce a vastly different state of affairs
These very abolitionists have been trained to throwing away their votes year after year, even hopelessly it seemed, rather than vote against what they deemed principle, and they cannot so soon have forgotten their lessons.
These very abolitionists have, in their own estimation, for years acted on a conviction that politics and governments could not be divorced from justice and honestly, and can it be expected that they have materially changed, changed too so much as to contradict all their former lives without even a shadow of temptation held out, aye even under scorn and continuely from those who ask their voting aid.
But enough of this, we have, already trespassed on your time far beyond our intention when we commenced this letter.

<Page 4>
We are only influenced by a desire to have the Republican Party triumphant in gross and in detail we earnestly desire a Republican President in '60 and a Republican Senator in '59 and we should not have intruded ourselves upon you at all had it not been that we consider the course alluded to in the commencement of this letter unfair towards Mr Lovejoy, unjust towards his friends who have so far acted in good faith with us and eminently dangerous to the success of the party if it be persisted in.
With the previous political views of the first signer of this letter you perhaps are somewhat acquainted, as for the second, he was a Henry Clay Whig until the Nebraska Bill was passed; we neither of us are comprehended by the term "abolitionist" so we think we look at this movement from a fair stand point, only biassed so far as County pride in Mr Lovejoy may influence us
With kind regards and warm wishes for your success next winter7
We remain
Yours sincerely
John H. BryantStephen G. Paddock

<Page 5>
Honl Abr. . .
[ endorsement ]
J. H. Bryant & S. G. Paddock.8
1Stephen G. Paddock wrote the body of this letter and signed his name. John H. Bryant signed his owned name at the conclusion of the letter, shown in the fourth image.
2Bureau County was part of Illinois’ Third Congressional District.
Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 142.
3Democrat Stephen A. Douglas was running for reelection to the U.S. Senate in the 1858 Federal Election.
Bryant and Paddock are referencing efforts by some conservative Republicans to nominate a third candidate to unseat Owen Lovejoy from the Third Congressional District’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Such Republicans were unhappy with Lovejoy’s abolitionism as well as encouraged by the recent rift that Douglas’ criticism of President James Buchanan’s support for the Lecompton Constitution caused within the Democratic Party. Some of Lincoln’s friends—including T. Lyle Dickey, Ward H. Lamon, and Leonard Swett—supported this scheme, hoping to capitalize on the votes of both conservative Republicans and pro-Douglas Democrats. Through correspondence, Lincoln privately warned Lovejoy of these efforts and argued to fellow Republicans that support for an independent candidate would only aid the Democratic Party.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:445-46, 456-58; Abraham Lincoln to Charles H. Ray; Abraham Lincoln to Ward H. Lamon; Abraham Lincoln to Burton C. Cook; Abraham Lincoln to Henry C. Whitney; Abraham Lincoln to Joseph O. Glover.
4At the time of this letter, Lincoln was not yet officially a political candidate for any office. However, during the 1858 Illinois Republican Convention, party delegates unanimously nominated him as the Republican Party’s candidate to supplant Douglas in the U.S. Senate.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, 1:457-58.
5This is almost certainly a reference to the Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854. Lincoln was one of many who credited the act with reigniting their interest in politics.
David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1995), 167-72.
6George W. Radcliffe was Bureau County’s representative in the Illinois House of Representatives at the time of this letter, and Burton C. Cook was the county’s representative in the Illinois Senate. The county was in the Forty-Seventh Illinois House District and the Seventh Illinois Senate District.
At the time, members of the Illinois General Assembly voted for and elected the state’s representatives in the U.S. Senate, so the outcome of the races for the Illinois House and the Illinois Senate were highly relevant to the outcome of the state’s U.S. Senate race.
Louis L. Emmerson, ed., Blue Book of the State of Illinois, 1919-1920 (Springfield: Illinois State Journal, 1919), 540-41; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 219, 221-22; Allen C. Guelzo, “House Divided: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Political Landscape of 1858,” The Journal of American History 94 (September 2007), 394.
7If Lincoln wrote a reply to this letter, his response has not been located. Bryant wrote Lincoln at least two other letters related to the elections of 1858.
Despite support for abolitionism among Republicans in the state’s northern counties—including Bureau County—Republican state committee members ultimately selected Lincoln as the party’s candidate for the U.S. Senate because they believed that a Republican with solid connections to the Whig Party and moderate views on slavery would have the broadest appeal and allow them to capture the votes of both those who had voted for John C. Fremont and those who voted for Millard Fillmore in the election of 1856. Competition for voters drove both Lincoln and Douglas to focus their campaigns on central Illinois, which was more hotly contested than either northern or southern Illinois.
In the local elections of 1858, Cook held over from 1856 in the Seventh Illinois Senate District. Voters in the Forty-Seventh House District elected Bryant over pro-Buchanan Democrat Thomas Tustin and pro-Douglas Democrat Benjamin L. Smith, awarding Bryant 2,570 votes to Tustin’s 786 and Smith’s 611. There is no evidence that an independent candidate ran in the Forty-Seventh House District. In Illinois’ Third Congressional District, Lovejoy won reelection, defeating anti-Lecompton Democrat George W. Armstrong as well as Buchanan Democrat David Leroy with 57.7 percent of the vote to Armstrong’s 38.8 percent and Leroy’s 3.4 percent.
In the local elections as a whole, Republicans won a majority of all votes cast in Illinois, but pro-Douglas Democrats retained control of the Illinois General Assembly and Douglas won reelection. 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 Republican Party.
John H. Bryant to Abraham Lincoln; John H. Bryant to Abraham Lincoln; Allen C. Guelzo, “House Divided: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Political Landscape of 1858,” 402-4, 414-16; The Weekly Chicago Times (IL), 11 November 1858, 2:5; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968, 222; Daily State Illinois Journal, (Springfield), 13 September 1858, 2:3; 3 November 1858, 2:2; 13 November 1858, 2:3; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990, 11; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, 1: 476, 556-57.
8Lincoln wrote this docketing.

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