William J. Patterson to Abraham Lincoln, 7 July 18581
Hon. Abram Lincoln.Dear Sir:–
Permit me to say that my citizenship in this State now entitles, or rather demands that I go into the Campaign.2 You will recollect that my Press— the Parkville (Mo.) Luminary— was the first sacrifice to Moloch of Border Ruffianism;3 I have therefore an old score to settle with the Little Giant (!) & his friends which can & must be properly squared before Novr[November] I had no chance to speak in Ills in the Presidential Campaign— having spent that season in Eastern States, & the last two months of it in Pa., speaking twice=a=day for Fremont & Free Labor.
I have some facts in Democratic engineering Kansas=ward which are not on the record— have also some Democratic Jewelry, in shape of one of the chains worn by a Free State prisoner for constructive (!) treason,—4 & what I want of you is that you see that our State Central
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furnish me with all the opportunities possible to stump the State.– On a pinch, I have spoken thrice a=day; constantly in Maine & in Pa.[Pennsylvania] twice— though it was desperate hard work.
The only condition I want to make is that my expenses & some fair compensation be given me;— as I am but a working man (printer & editor) on whom a family is dependent, & of course I can’t afford lose the time requisite for what I am able & willing to do. I would like to follow like a [...?] sleuth=hound on Douglas track!5
I don’t know any of the State Come[Committee] I can refer you to Gov. Morrill of Me.6Gov. Haile of N.H.,— Hon. H. B. Stanton of N.Y.— Eli Thayer, M. C.[Member Congress],— I think Frank P. Blair, M. C. will recollect me; at any rate Mr Bross (of the Press & Tribune here) Mr Waughop, W. H. Brown, ^Esq[Esquire]^ & others would willingly vouch there is no bogus in the undersigned. Reflect on my suggestion & please let me know at once what may be
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expected; or put me in communication with some of the managing men of the State
What makes me, at the outset, name expenses, is that the Pa. State Come failed completely to pay even my expenses outlaid. And that, too, (as I can show you by letters in my possession) after they had received $500 from Springfield, Mass., to apply towards my labors!! I have no suspicion that I shall be so treated, as if asked to labor in Ills[Illinois], but not ^no^ harm can result from a distinct definite understanding.
If I go into the work, I want appointments in those places where work is to be done— where matters of fact will tell; I will carry the war into Africa, & the more willingly if I know that Scipio Africanus (the Black Democracy) is at home!7
Please write me a line or two per return mail—8 & believe me yours for Freedom ever
Wm J. Patterson
P. O. Box, 3899.

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CHICAGO Ill[Illinois]
JUL[JULY] 8 1858
Hon. Abram Lincoln,Springfield,Illinois
[ docketing ]
Wm J. Patterson.9
1William J. Patterson wrote and signed this letter, including the address on the envelope.
2The Republican Party of Illinois had recently commenced their efforts in the election campaign of 1858 with their statewide convention on June 16, at which Abraham Lincoln was nominated to run against incumbent Stephen A. Douglas to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate. 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. Lincoln and Douglas both campaigned extensively and focused their campaign efforts on the former Whig stronghold of central Illinois, where the state legislative races were the closest.
Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 17 June 1858, 2:1-6; Allen C. Guelzo, “Houses Divided: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Political Landscape of 1858,” The Journal of American History 94 (September 2007), 392-99, 400-401; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:457-58, 476-77.
3In the Bible, Moloch or Molech was the god of the Ammonites, to whom parents sacrificed their children. The term evolved to be used for anything that demands a great personal sacrifice.
Adrian Room, rev., Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable (London: Cassell, 1999; repr. London: Cassell, 2002), 782.
4The concept of constructive treason originated in the English legal tradition, where it was a capital offense. As opposed to treasonous actions such as levying war against the state, constructive treason encompassed spoken and written criticism of the government. Article III, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution defines treason as levying war against the country or joining or otherwise giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the country, with the framers intending to prevent the concept of constructive treason from being invoked to suppress political dissent.
Despite not being explicitly defined in the U.S. Constitution, constructive treason was a political issue during the period of Bleeding Kansas. In Kansas’ first election of a territorial legislature in 1855, a pro-slavery government was elected in a election characterized by widespread fraud, and a rival anti-slavery legislature was subsequently formed in response. In January of 1856 President Franklin Pierce made a statement that declared the pro-slavery legislature legitimate despite the election irregularities, and characterized opposition to the territorial government as treason. The following May the territorial court called for the indictment on treason charges of several men who let the opposition to the pro-slavery territorial government. Territorial supreme court chief justice Samuel D. Lecompte was inaccurately reported as having requested that a grand jury charge the men with constructive treason, for which he was criticized widely by politicians and in the press. Those of the men charged with treason who were captured were imprisoned for several months before the government declined to further pursue the charges.
William A. Blair, With Malice toward Some: Treason and Loyalty in the Civil War Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014), 15-16, 24-30; U.S. Const. art. III, § 3, cl. 1; James C. Malin, “Judge Lecompte and ‘The Sack of Lawrence,’ May 21, 1856: Part One: The Contemporary Phase,” The Kansas Historical Quarterly 20 (August 1953), 472-73, 487, 489-91.
5A sleuth hound was a type of Scottish bloodhound, used to pursue game or track fugitives.
J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), 15:692.
6Anson P. Morrill had been governor of Maine in 1855 when Patterson was in the state giving speeches on the situation in Kansas. Lot M. Morrill was the governor of Maine at the time Patterson composed this letter. It is uncertain which of the two men Patterson is referring to here.
Robert Sobel and John Raimo, eds., Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States 1789-1978 (Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978), 2:607-8, 610-11; Bangor Daily Whig and Courier (ME), 13 August 1855, 2:2; Portland Advertiser (ME), 21 August 1855, 2:1.
7The desire to act offensively and “carry the war into Africa” is historically ascribed to Roman general Scipio Africanus himself, who successfully led Roman forces into North Africa against Hannibal and the Carthaginians in the Second Punic War. Patterson may have confused the cognomen of “Africanus”, which was granted to Scipio in recognition of his victory in North Africa, as an indication that Scipio was in fact African. Republicans in this period referred to members of the Democratic Party as “Black” or “African” Democrats, alternately to highlight that party’s commitment to the expansion of slavery and to imply that the Democratic and not the Republican Party favored the interests of black people over those of white people.
Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth, eds., The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd ed. rev. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 398; The Daily Courier (Galena, IL), 27 September 1859, 2:2; Hinton Rowan Helper, Compendium of the Impending Crisis of the South (New York: A. B. Burdick, 1860), 82; James D. Bilotta, Race and the Rise of the Republican Party, 1848-1865 (New York: Peter Lang, 1992), 270-72.
8No response to this letter nor any further correspondence between Lincoln and Patterson has been located. No evidence has been located that Patterson campaigned in Illinois in 1858.
9Lincoln wrote this docketing.

Autograph Letter Signed, 6 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).