John L. Scripps to Abraham Lincoln, 22 June 18581
Hon. A. LincolnMy Dear Sir,
I need scarcely say to you that your speech before the Republican State Convention gave me infinite satisfaction.2 It cannot fail to do great good in our state, and will aid materially in opening the eyes of many to the truth. I trust it may be read by every citizen of the North west, and ^we^ shall ^aid^ somewhat to that end by publishing it in the three editions of the Press.3 There is one part of your speech, however, to which I desire to direct your attention. Some of my Kentucky friends who want to be Republican, but who are afraid we are not
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sufficiently conservative, who are also somewhat afraid of our name, but who hate "Locofocosim" most cordially, have objected to the following, on the ground of its "ultraism":
I believe this Government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free.
I do not expect the Union to be dissolved— I don't expect the house to fall— but I do expect it will cease to be divided.
It will become all one thing, or all the other.
Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as newNorth as well as South.4
This they hold is an implied pledge on behalf of the Republican party to make war upon the institution in the States where it now exists. They do not perceive that you refer to ^a^ the moral tendency, but insist that your meaning goes to a political warfar under legal forms against slavery in the states. Nor will they admit that your meaning is limited by the declaration of principles adopted
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by the Convention before the delivery of your speech. "The declaration", they say "is right, but the speech, in this one particular, is not."
I call your attention to the fact, not with the expectation that you will make public explanations. That I do not believe would be advisable. But I take the liberty to suggest that on some subsequent occasion, it may be advisable for you to state your views specifically relative to the general question of federal interference with slavery in the states, and also as to the policy of the Republican party, as a national political organization, meddling with the subject any further than Congress has the Constitutional right of controlling it.5
Very Truly Your friendJno. L. Scripps

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CHICAGO Ill[Illinois]
JUN[JUNE] [?] 1858
Hon. A. LincolnSpringfieldIllinois
1John L. Scripps wrote and signed this letter, including the address on the envelope.
2Abraham Lincoln delivered his "House Divided Speech" to delegates to the Illinois Republican State Convention on the evening of June 16, 1858. Delegates had earlier that day unanimously nominated Lincoln as Republican candidate from Illinois for the U.S. Senate.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 457-65; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 17 June 1858, 2:5, 6; Report of Speech at Springfield, Illinois; Report of Speech at Springfield, Illinois; Fragment of A House Divided: Speech at Springfield, Illinois; Report of Speech at Springfield, Illinois.
3Scripps was the editor of the Chicago Daily Democratic Press when the Illinois Republic State Convention met in June 1858. The next month, July 1858, saw the Daily Democratic Press combine with the Chicago Tribune to become the Press & Tribune. The Tribune published the text of Lincoln's House Divided Speech in its June 19 edition and reported extensively on the convention and Lincoln in additional issues. The Press & Tribune continued in this vein.
Franklin William Scott, Newspapers and Periodicals of Illinois, 1814-1879, vol. 6 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1910), 59, 63; Chicago Daily Tribune (IL), 19 June 1858, 2:4-5; 25 June 1858, 2:1; 26 June 1858, 2:3; Chicago Daily Press and Tribune (IL), 1 July 1858, 2:3; 2 July 1858, 2:2; 24 September 1858, 2:1.
4Scripps cut this paragraph out of the newspaper and attached it to the letter here. The newspaper from which the clipping was drawn is unknown, but the text is almost identical to that published in the Daily Illinois State Journal on June 18, 1858.
Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 18 June 1858, 2:2.
5Lincoln responded to Scripps the next day, June 23. As to the interpretation of his speech, Lincoln wrote, "I am much mortified that any part of it should be construed so differently from any thing intended by me." He continued, "I have declared a thousand times, and now repeat that, in my opinion neither the General Government, nor any other power outside of the slave states, can constitutionally or rightfully interfere with slaves or slavery where it already exists."
In the summer and fall of 1858, Lincoln crisscrossed Illinois delivering speeches and campaigning on behalf of Republican candidates for the Illinois General Assembly. At 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 were of importance to Lincoln’s campaign. He ran against, and lost to, Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, the incumbent. See the 1858 Illinois Republican Convention; 1858 Federal Election.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life , 1:457-85, 557; Allen C. Guelzo, “House Divided: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Political Landscape of 1858,” The Journal of American History 94 (September 2007), 392.
6Lincoln wrote this docketing.

Autograph Letter Signed, 4 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).