Gustave P. Koerner to Abraham Lincoln, 17 July 18581
Dear Sir.
I will speak to Mr. Hecker about his coming up to Springfield.2 But if he comes at all, not a word must be said to him about paying even his travelling expenses. He would feel very indignant. Though he lost nearly all his own fortune, which was considerable, in the revolution, yet through his wife, and by the recent death of his father, as well by his own exertions here and judicious investments, he is a man of wealth, and even if he were not, he is so disinterested that he would never claim any compensation.3 But, and this is strictly between ourselves, I am not inclined to think that his presence will do much good. At least this is my experience. While well calculated to animate friends, he cannot conciliate opponents, and amongst the Catholicks and even orthodox protestants he is considered as the very Anti-Christ. We lost more by his exertions in the adjoining Counties, where they only knew him by reputation, than we gained. In St. Clair, where his noble personal character is known, it was otherwise.4
I am well aware that this Douglas demonstration in Chicago was all a sham.5 It was intended for effect elsewhere. I don't think that
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his speech will have any tendency, to [induce?] Buchanan to let him alone.6 Quite the reverse. He will spent much money to get up similar pageants. And here I would say, would it not be best for us to refrain from counter-Demonstrations. Let him have it all to himself. There is 3 or 4 Counties where we have to work We know them and can quietely concentrate all our forces there. As for a general hurrah and big mass meetings, there is in my opinion very little need, nor can we beat him at that game. If we are quiet, his parades and orations to him will die off. You of course will address the People at various places, and the Sessions of Court will furnish you opportunities enough. We will speak on the circuit here in every County. But we will rely more in getting out judicious and invincible tickets, than on public demonstrations. If we can carry Morgan, Macoupin, St. Clair, Peoria, Randolph McDonough & one or two more, I think all is safe.7 We ought not to waste our ammunition, where we can accomplish nothing. Let concentration be our watchword. Perhaps the Central Committee had better meet to agree upon a general plan of campaign. I throw out these suggestions. I may be mistaken, and will cheerfully
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give up my views to others. Our County is perfectly safe. May be we will succeed in the Bond & Clinton District.8 That is a bare possibility however. Some 20.000 of your Chicago speech ought to be printed & circulated–9
Please write me often. I think we have got them sure this time.10
Yours very trulyG KoernerHon A. LincolnSpringfield, Ill[Illinois]

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Hon. Abraham LincolnSpringfieldIll
[ docketing ]
G. Koerner11
1Gustave P. Koerner wrote and signed this letter, including the address on the envelope.
2Abraham Lincoln wrote to Koerner on July 15 asking him to ascertain if German Republican Friedrich K. F. Hecker would visit the Springfield region and address local German-Americans. Lincoln was the Republican Party candidate for U.S. Senate in 1858. See 1858 Illinois Republican Convention; 1858 Federal Election.
The moralizing tone of the Republican platform to stop the spread of slavery led many German-Americans to push for the party to defend immigrants. However, the Republican Party needed both the German votes and the votes of former American Party members to win in 1858. These two groups possessed decidedly opposing viewpoints, with the nativism of the American Party directing its anger at immigrants such as the Germans. Lincoln was not a supporter of nativism and in a letter to Joshua F. Speed in 1855 he wrote, "How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty refined."
Hecker addressed a crowd of German Republicans in Bloomington in late October, and he was described by one newspaper as "the political idol of the German population of this state." Hecker also spoke in Chicago on October 23 and in Galena on October 28.
Alison Clark Efford, "Abraham Lincoln, German-Born Republicans, and American Citizenship," Marquette Law Review 93 (Summer 2010): 1376-78; Sabine Freitag, Friedrich Hecker: Two Lives for Liberty, trans. by Steven Rowan (St. Louis: St. Louis Mercantile Library, University of Missouri–St. Louis, 2006), 199; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:432, 458; The Daily Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL), 30 October 1858, 3:1; Chicago Daily Press and Tribune (IL), 26 October 1858, 1:4; 30 October 1858, 1:3.
3Hecker had been a leading radical in the Frankfurt Pre-Parliament established to create a German Republic during the revolutions and democratic movements that convulsed Germany and Europe in 1848 and 1849. When the Frankfurt Parliament broke down, Hecker attempted an armed uprising in the name of a unified German republic. After suffering military defeat, he fled to the United States.
Hecker's father, Joseph, died on June 9, 1858, at the age of eighty-one.
Sabine Freitag, Friedrich Hecker: Two Lives for Liberty, 15; Mike Rapport, 1848: Year of Revolution (New York: Basic Books, 2008), 117-21; Steven Rowan, "Hecker, Friedrich Karl Franz," American National Biography , ed. by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 10:486-87; Gravestone, Mannheim Hauptfriedhof, Stadtkreis Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.
4Hecker settled in St. Clair County upon immigrating to the United States. A local newspaper, the Belleville Advocate, welcomed him, writing, "on no spot in the wide world could he have chosen an asylum where a warmer grasp of the Republican hand is ever ready for liberty's devoted friend."
Sabine Freitag, Friedrich Hecker: Two Lives for Liberty, 131.
5Stephen A. Douglas, the incumbent and Democratic candidate running against Lincoln, had commenced his reelection campaign with a speech in Chicago on July 9, 1858. Lincoln responded with his own speech in Chicago on July 10.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life , 1:467-72; Chicago Daily Press and Tribune (IL), 10 July 1858, 1:2-5; 12 July 1858, 1:2-6; Report of Speech at Chicago, Illinois; Report of Speech at Chicago, Illinois; Report of Speech at Chicago, Illinois.
6Although both members of the Democratic Party, President James Buchanan and Douglas landed on opposing sides when the party split over support of the Lecompton Constitution in 1857. According to the New York Tribune, Buchanan personally directed, if not wrote, political attacks on Douglas. Another newspaper reported, "All the attempts to patch up a truce between the Administration and the Douglas wing of the party have resulted in confirming the original separation, and widening the breach."
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, 1:445; Chicago Daily Press and Tribune (IL), 22 July 1858, 2:2.
7In 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.
The southern counties in Illinois leaned heavily Democratic and had more legislative seats than deserved based on the past census. In the 1858 congressional election, Democrats defeated the Republicans in Morgan County 53.2 to 46.4 percent, Macoupin County 55.4 to 42.7 percent, Peoria County 47.6 to 47.2 percent, Randolph County 54 to 45.4 percent, and McDonough County 52.1 to 47.6 percent. Republicans won in St. Clair County 53.6 to 44.8 percent. In elections for the Illinois House, Democrats won in Morgan, Macoupin, Randolph, and McDonough counties and Republicans won in Peoria and St. Clair counties. In the Illinois Senate, Democrats in St. Clair, Randolph, and McDonough returned as holdovers, while Morgan retained its Republican officeholder. Among newcomers to the Senate, Morgan sent a Republican and Macoupin a Democrat.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life , 1:457-85, 486; Allen C. Guelzo, “Houses Divided: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Political Landscape of 1858,” The Journal of American History 94 (September 2007), 392; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 142-43; Daily State Illinois Journal (Springfield), 13 November 1858, 2:3.
8Bond and Clinton counties were located in the Eighth Illinois Congressional District. In the 1858 congressional election, Democratic candidate Phillip B. Fouke defeated Republican candidate Jehu Baker with 57.2 percent of the vote to 41.8 percent of the vote. Fouke received 69.3 percent of the vote to 29.6 percent of the vote for Baker in Clinton County, but in Bond County, Baker received 51 percent of the vote to 48.8 percent for Fouke. In the Illinois House, Charles Hoiles, a Democrat, won the seat; Bond and Clinton also sent Democrats to the Illinois Senate.
Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990, 11, 143; Daily State Illinois Journal (Springfield), 13 November 1858, 2:3.
9The July 12 edition of the Chicago Daily Press and Tribune printed Lincoln's speech of July 10, and the July 13 edition of the Daily Illinois State Journal printed the speech as well. The Tribune offered extra copies of the speech at the newpaper's office. No evidence was found that the speech was printed and circulated as an individual pamphlet.
Chicago Daily Press and Tribune (IL), 12 July 1858, 1:2-6; Daily Illinois State Journal, (Springfield, IL), 13 July 1858, 2:1-5.
10Lincoln responded to this letter on July 25.
Although Stephen A. Douglas ultimately won the U.S. Senate seat for Illinois, Lincoln made a name for himself nationally. See the 1858 Federal Election.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life , 1:545-57.
11Lincoln wrote this docketing.

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