David L. Phillips to Abraham Lincoln, 9 June 18581
Hon. A. LincolnSpringfieldIll.Dear Sir:–
Our County Conventions in Egypt have nearly all been held,2 and pretty full delegations will be in attendance on the 16th inst. On Friday last I attended the Jackson Co. meeting Our Union Convention met on Saturday, as also the Rep. Convention for Washington Co. I attended the latter, Mr. Wiley looking after our interests in the former. We have secured the passage of a strong resolution ^in all these meetings^ indicating you as our first last and only choice for U.S. Senator to fill the vacancy about to occur.3 The meeting at Nashville was a good one. The Court House clique was out with mouths & ears open. I spoke to them about two hours; and having been for 6 or 7 years a citizen of that County, and a democrat, I had their attention to the last. I think I spoke to purpose, and that our meeting did good. As a result, an appointment was made for me at Richview on Monday night when I addressed a crowded house, and we had a good time. I addressed also the Jackson Co. meeting I hope to some purpose. My Chief aim is, to prove
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that if legislating on the subject of slavery in Territories is Abolitionism then was Washington Jefferson Madison Monroe Jackson Polk, Clay Webster John C. Calhoun (at one time) Buchanan Douglas and the Legislature of this state and almost every democrat in it at one that time ^were^ Abolitionists. I cited the Ordinance of 1787, the Act of 1789.4 1820, 1845,5 1848,6 and the speeches of all classes of statesmen in 1850, and Douglas' speech of 22d March 1858.7 In Argument I think we have overwhelmed the bob-tailed orators in the 9th district. Dougherty & Logan are quarrelling like dogs,–8 We are comforting and taking care of the hesitating and afflicted ones.9 Never was the Cause of republicanism so hopeful in all its aspects as now. Egypt will give a good account of itself yet. This fall we must have you help to revolutionize this dark corner of Ill. I hope to see you on the 16th and that we shall have a grand time.10
Yours TrulyD L Phillips

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Postwick & Bullens ,
Pana, Christian Co.[County]
PANA ILL[Illinois]
JUN[June] 12
Hon. Abram LincolnSpringfieldIll.
[ docketing ]
D. L. Philips.11
1David L. Phillips wrote and signed this letter. He also wrote Abraham Lincoln’s name and address on the envelope shown in the third image.
2Egypt was a popular nickname for southern Illinois.
George W. Smith, When Lincoln Came to Egypt (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2016), xvii, 3.
3Democrat Stephen A. Douglas was running for reelection to the U.S. Senate in the 1858 Federal Election, giving the Republicans an opportunity to unseat him.
Both Phillips and Benjamin L. Wiley delivered speeches at the Jackson County Republican Convention, which met in Carbondale, Illinois on Friday, June 4. Delegates to the convention passed a resolution deeming Wiley worthy of representing the district in the U.S. House of Representatives and pledging support if he chose to run.
Wiley also delivered a speech at the Union County Republican Convention, which met in Anna, Illinois on Saturday, June 5. Delegates to that convention appointed Wiley to a central committee responsible for promoting the party’s interests, appointed both Wiley and Phillips delegates to the 1858 Illinois Republican Convention in Springfield, Illinois, and also passed a resolution in support of Wiley as a candidate for Congress, if he chose to run.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:445-46, 456-58; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 14 June 1858, 2:2; 15 June 1858, 2:2; 16 June 1858, 2:2.
4The “Act of 1789” is a reference to a 1789 statute enforcing the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.
“An Act to Provide for the Government of the Territory North-west of the River Ohio,” 7 August 1789, Statutes at Large of the United States 1 (1850):50-53.
5This is a reference to the 1845 act authorizing the admission of Iowa as a free state and Florida as a slave state.
“An Act for the Admission of the States of Iowa and Florida into the Union,” 3 March 1845, Statutes at Large of the United States 5 (1850):742-43.
6“1858” changed to “1848.”
7On March 22, 1858, Stephen A. Douglas delivered a three-hour long address in the U.S. Senate denouncing the Lecompton Constitution.
In this section of the letter, Phillips appears to be referring to antislavery arguments common at the time—including that the nation’s founders were either explicitly or implicitly antislavery, believed and intended the institution of slavery to die out over time, and that not only did they codify these perspectives into the nation’s founding documents and legislation related to federal territories, but so, too, did subsequent political leaders. Abolitionists used these arguments, as did Lincoln and other antislavery members of the Republican Party as they fought the expansion of slavery.
Cong. Globe, 35th Cong., 1st Sess., 1239 (1858); Cong. Globe, 35th Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 194-99 (1858); James Oakes, The Crooked Path to Abolition: Abraham Lincoln and the Antislavery Constitution (New York: W. W. Norton, 2021), xii-xviii; Eric Foner, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery (New York: W. W. Norton, 2010), 20, 24-26.
8The Ninth Illinois Congressional District included Jackson, Union, and sixteen other counties in southern Illinois.
John Dougherty was a pro-James Buchanan Democrat who was critical of Douglas’ actions pertaining to the Lecompton Constitution. See Bleeding Kansas for more information. Delegates to the 1858 Illinois Democratic Convention nominated Dougherty as the party’s candidate for state treasurer. John A. Logan was a pro-Douglas Democrat who became the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives for the Ninth District.
Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 143; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 16 January 1858, 3:1; 10 February 1858, 2:3; 10 June 1858, 2:4; 7 September 1858, 2:3.
9Phillips is referring to Republican efforts to take political advantage of divisions within the Democratic Party. Douglas’ criticism of the Lecompton Constitution—and President Buchanan for supporting it—created rifts in the Democratic Party, with some supporting Douglas’ actions and others supporting Buchanan’s.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life , 1:445-48.
10Lincoln’s reply, if he wrote one, has not been located. Phillips wrote Lincoln again on July 24.
Both Phillips and Lincoln attended the 1858 Illinois Republican Convention in Springfield on June 16. Phillips served as a delegate for Union County, Illinois, and Lincoln served as a delegate for Sangamon County.
Both Nashville, Illinois and Richview, Illinois were part of the state’s Eighth Congressional District. Douglas Democrat Phillip B. Fouke, Buchanan Democrat Thomas M. Hope, and Republican Jehu Baker competed in the fall of 1858 for the Eighth Congressional District’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Voters elected Fouke with 57.2 percent of the total votes cast to Baker’s 41.8 percent and Hope’s 0.99 percent.
In the Ninth Congressional District, Wiley ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1858, but withdrew from the race in September. Phillips took his place that month, running as the Republican Party’s candidate for the state’s Ninth Congressional District. In the end, however, Douglas Democrat John A. Logan soundly won the Ninth Congressional District’s seat in the U.S. House, with nearly 16,000 votes to Phillips’ nearly 2,800.
Dougherty was not elected Illinois state treasurer; voters elected Republican James Miller to the position over both Dougherty and William B. Fondey.
Republicans won a majority of the votes cast in local elections in 1858, but 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. Voters in southern Illinois awarded Douglas and pro-Douglas state candidates strong support, and, ultimately, Douglas won reelection to the U.S. Senate in the 1858 Federal Election. 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.
Edward Callary, Place Names of Illinois (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009), 244, 295; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 11, 143; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 17 June 1858, 2:3-4; 7 September 1858, 2:3; 21 September 1858, 3:1; 2 October 1858, 3:2; Daily Illinois State Register (Springfield), 6 September 1858, 2:3; 27 November 1858, 2:3; Allen C. Guelzo, “House Divided: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Political Landscape of 1858,” The Journal of American History 94 (September 2007), 395-96, 414-16; Bruce Collins, “The Lincoln-Douglas Contest of 1858 and Illinois’ Electorate,” The Journal of American Studies 20 (December 1986), 401-402; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, 1:556-57.
11Lincoln wrote this docketing.

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