Anthony C. Hesing to Abraham Lincoln, 29 June 18581Chicago June 29h 1858.Hon Abraham Lincoln, Springfield.Dr[Dear] Sir!
On next Monday the Anniversary of our Independence ^S L Baker Esq[Esquire]^ will present to our German 7th Ward Club a splendid Banner for its great victory over Border Ruffianism at last Spring Election.2
While the Republicans of wich you are considered the the leader work for the same principles, wich are laid down in the Declaration of Independence, we think the fourth of July a proper day for the opening of the Campain.3 We would therefore be much pleased, to be honored with your presence, & if so please inform us.4Your most obedient servantA. C. Hesing
Chairman of Committee of Arranging
2Hesing, Henry Wendt, and Anthony Fischer comprised the festival committee for the Fourth of July celebration of Chicago’s German-Americans, which was held on Monday, July 5, 1858, and raised funds to benefit the German Aid Society. In addition to speeches in English and German, the event featured gymnastics and games.
As part of the festivities, the German Republicans of Chicago’s Seventh Ward were presented a banner in recognition of their efforts in securing victory in the March 2, 1858, Chicago municipal election for the Republican Party. Samuel L. Baker having been detained by business in New York, Charles L. Wilson read a letter from him and presented the banner on his behalf. In the latter half of the 1850s, the Seventh Ward of Chicago was referred to as the “Bloody Seventh” due to the political clashes between Irish residents who supported the Democratic Party and German residents who increasingly supported the Republican Party. The outcome of the 1858 Chicago municipal election was that the entire Republican ticket was elected. In addition, following the election the Chicago city marshall, city clerk, and five aldermen were all of German origin, and the Germans of the Seventh Ward were celebrated for their role in the Republican victory. While in the 1856 mayoral election the Seventh Ward had given a 790-vote margin of victory to Democrat Thomas Dyer, in the 1858 mayoral race the ward gave Republican victor John C. Haines a 158-vote advantage. The ward was lauded by the Chicago Tribune, which wrote that it had “been redeemed, regenerated and disenthralled! The great Irish citadel has been stormed–the black flag of Ruffianism has been hauled down, and the bright banner of Freedom waves in glorious triumph.”
In its coverage of the 1858 Chicago municipal election, the Daily Chicago Tribune referred to Democrats and the Democratic Party as “Border Ruffians” and “Border Ruffianism” in reference to the skirmishes along the border of Missouri and Kansas Territory during the events of “Bleeding Kansas”.
Chicago Daily Press and Tribune (IL), 2 July 1858, 1:2; 7 July 1858, 1:3-4; Raymond Lohne, “‘Five Times as Enthusiastic’: Abraham Lincoln and the Bloody Seventh of Chicago,” Yearbook of German-American Studies 50 (2015), 105-28; Christina Bearden-White, “Illinois Germans and the Coming of the Civil War: Reshaping Ethnic Identity,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 109 (Fall 2016), 236-37; Chicago Daily Tribune (IL), 1 March 1858, 1:1-2; 3 March 1858, 1:1-2; 4 March 1858, 1:2; 5 March 1858, 2:1; 6 March 1858, 1:3; 11 March 1858, 2:1; The Weekly Chicago Times (IL), 4 March 1858, 3:1.
3Abraham Lincoln had recently accepted the Republican nomination to run for U.S. Senate at the Illinois Republican Convention in Springfield on June 16, 1858. Incumbent Democratic senator Stephen A. Douglas and Lincoln would commence their campaigns with speeches in Chicago on July 9 and July 10, 1858, respectively. Lincoln’s speech was attended by a contingent of supporters from the Seventh Ward.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:457-71; Chicago Daily Press and Tribune (IL), 12 July 1858, 1:2; Report of Speech at Chicago, Illinois; Report of Speech at Chicago, Illinois; Report of Speech at Chicago, Illinois.
4Lincoln responded to this letter on June 30, 1858, stating that he would be unable to attend.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).