Hampton P. Sloan to Abraham Lincoln, 12 July 18581
Hon Abram LincolnDear Sir
It is with much pleasure, that, I comply with the request of The Winnebago ^Co^ Agricultural Society executive Committee, in giving you an invitation to address, the citizens of our County and adjoining Counties, at our anual fair to be held in the City of Rockford on the 22d, 23d & 24th of September next
The exhibition of our county fair is perhaps Second to no other County in the State and is largely attended usualy from 10 to 15 thousand persons, and if it is known that you will address our Society the number will be augmented, and at this particular Time and at this locality, your address may bear a moderate Spicing of General politics2 Many of our citizens will be happy to make your acquaintance You will please inform me immediately if you can come3
yours most respetfuly H. P. Sloan Pres.[President] W.A S.Hon Abram LincolnSpringfield Illinois

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Hon Abram LincolnSpringfieldIllinois
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H. P. Sloan
1Hampton P. Sloan wrote and signed this letter. He also wrote Abraham Lincoln’s name and address on the envelope shown in the second image.
2At the time of this letter, Lincoln was the Illinois Republican Party’s candidate for the U.S. Senate. He was running against incumbent Stephen A. Douglas in the 1858 Federal Election. See 1858 Illinois Republican Convention.
Politicians and party managers often scheduled political meetings to coincide with circuses, fairs, and other local festivities to ensure a large audience. Circus tents also provided a public place for large crowds to congregation. In the 1858 senatorial campaign, Lincoln and Douglas spoke in several localities in conjunction with circus performances or fairs.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:458; Richard E. Hart, Circuses in Lincoln’s Springfield (1833-1860) (Springfield: Richard E. Hart, 2013), 7-8; Paul M. Angle, ed., The Complete Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 (Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 189, 232.
3Lincoln replied to this letter August 3, and Sloan responded to Lincoln on August 10. Lincoln ultimately did not address the crowds at the Winnebago County Agricultural Society’s annual fair. Between September 22 and 24, he delivered campaign speeches in Danville, Illinois and Urbana, Illinois instead. At the time, the northern counties of Illinois—such as Winnebago—were a Republican stronghold, but central Illinois was competitive. Both Lincoln and Douglas focused their 1858 campaigns on central Illinois.
In the local elections of 1858, Republicans won a majority of all votes cast in Illinois, but pro-Douglas Democrats retained control of the Illinois General Assembly. At the time, members of the General Assembly voted for and elected the state’s representatives in the U.S. Senate, 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.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, September 1858, https://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarMonth&year=1858&month=9; Allen C. Guelzo, “Houses Divided: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Political Landscape of 1858,” The Journal of American History 94 (September 2007), 394, 404, 414-16; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, 1:476, 556-57.
4Lincoln wrote this docketing vertically on the left side of the envelope shown in the second image.

Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).