Jediah F. Alexander to Abraham Lincoln, 5 August 18581
Hon. A. Lincoln:Dear Sir:
Your letter of the 2d inst. is just received. I have advised with the Central Committee of the County, and it is thought that if it is not too late, or inconvenient, for your appointments to be so arranged as to bring you here on the 13th day of Sept.[September], which is the first day of our Circuit Court, it would be better than on the 11th, for the reason that the Court will bring out a great many persons who would not otherwise come.2 That would give you ample time to get to Jonesboro on the 15th.3 If perfectly convenient, when you receive this, please make that change, if not, make it to suit yourself.4 We can get out a good audience any time. Douglas spoke yesterday, and I cannot hear that he has gained anything by it. Many ac acknowledge their disappointment. They say they did not expect to hear so much slang. From what I can gather, he was more abusive here than at any preceding appointment.5
You must be full and explicit in ex-
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plaining that you are not in favor of interfering in any manner, with slavery in the States, but allow them to keep it just as long as they can manage it. That the Republicans are not in favor of making the Blacks socially and politically equal with the Whites.6 When you get here, it is necessary that you treat these, and other questions connected with the Negro, more at length than you are in the habit of doing, some folks are so hard of understanding, and like to hear a good thing repeated. It might be well to explain how we propose to get the right kind of decisions from the Supreme Court, that is, just as we would if we the Supreme Court of our State were in the habit of giving wrong decisions, at the proper time and place, to put better men in their places. Bring to mind the difference between Popular Sovereignty in 1854 & 1856, when the Democratic speakers and papers claimed that the people of a Territory, while a Territory, could prohibit slavery if they wished, and the Republicans charged that such was not their effect of the Nebraska Bill, and Popular Sovereignty now, when Douglas declines saying that the Territorial Legislature can
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prohibit slavery.–7 But I am probably making my letter too long, and giving advice which is not needed. If so, please excuse me, on the plea that my whole heart is in the cause. Some of our Fillmore men here are hard to manage, but I hope they will about all come right.8 We will be glad to see and hear Trumbull also, very glad, and trust he will accompany you.9 Can't you get Palmer on the stump. He is an excellent stumper for this part of the State?10
Have you the means of sending me the Douglas's Nebraska Bill and Report, for organizing the whole Territory in one, introduced in December, 1853, a short time before the Kansas-Nebraska Bill was introduced; also a copy of the Compromise Measures of 1850. I think I could use them to advantage, by publishing extracts, &c.[etc.]11
Very Truly Yours,J. F. Alexander.

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GREENVILLE Ills[Illinois]
Hon. A. Lincoln,Springfield,Ills.
[ docketing ]
J. F. Alexander.12
1Jediah F. Alexander wrote and signed this letter, including the name and address on the envelope.
2Alexander had invited Abraham Lincoln to speak in Greenville, Illinois, on May 1, but Lincoln declined on May 15, stating he could not take the time away from his law business. Alexander again invited Lincoln to Greenville on July 23, asking him to speak in Greenville on August 4 to counter the scheduled speech that day of Stephen A. Douglas. Lincoln responded on August 2, declining that invitation as well, but promising to visit on September 11. .
Alexander had represented Bond County at the Illinois Republican State Convention that had unanimously nominated Lincoln as its candidate for the U.S. Senate. 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 Douglas, the incumbent. See 1858 Federal Election.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:457-85, 547, 557; Allen C. Guelzo, “Houses Divided: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Political Landscape of 1858,” The Journal of American History 94 (September 2007), 392; Daily State Illinois Journal (Springfield), 17 June 1858, 2:3.
3Lincoln and Douglas were scheduled to participate in the third of a series of debates at Jonesboro on September 15.
Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 1 September 1858, 3:1; Chicago Daily Press and Tribune (IL), 1 September 1858, 2:1; Third Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Jonesboro, Illinois; Third Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Jonesboro, Illinois; Third Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Jonesboro, Illinois.
4Lincoln adjusted his schedule and gave a speech in Greenville on September 13.
Chicago Daily Press and Tribune (IL), 1 September 1858, 2:1; Alton Daily Courier(IL), 3 September 1858, 2:1, 3.
5One attendee of Douglas's talk in Greenville on August 4 wrote, "I am well satisfied Mr. Douglas lost a number of votes yesterday, and that he did not gain one. Nearly every sober man that I spoke to said they were sadly disappointed in the man, feeling that they had been insulted by the style of his speech, knowing that Mr. Douglas could have done much better had he thought us capable of comprehending him."
Chicago Daily Press and Tribune (IL), 9 August 1858, 1:1.
6In the first debate between Douglas and Lincoln on August 21, Lincoln argued, "I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which in my judgment will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference. I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong, having the superior position. I have never said anything to the contrary, but I hold that notwithstanding all this, there is no reason in the world why the negro is not entitled to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
First Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Ottawa, Illinois; First Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Ottawa, Illinois; First Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Ottawa, Illinois.
7As the Kansas Territory inched toward statehood, the issue of whether or not slavery would be legal in Kansas became a polarizing debate. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, supported by Douglas, overturned the Missouri Compromise excluding slavery in the territory and established that the question would be determined by popular sovereignty, or the right of a states’ voters to determine whether or not that state would allow slavery. Prior to 1854, popular sovereignty had the potential to block the extension of slavery in a politically benign way; Douglas's new use of the doctrine discredited it in the eyes of possible antislavery supporters. It also set off a firestorm of violence as outsiders tried to exert their influence. Slaveholders in Missouri were particularly active in these efforts, and Missourians crossed the border into Kansas to vote in Kansas elections and commit acts of intimidation and violence. See Bleeding Kansas.
David M. Potter and Don E. Fehrenbacher, The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861 (New York: Harper & Row, 1976), 155-76;199-224.
8Alexander is referring former members of the American Party, often referred to colloquially as "Fillmore Men" because the national party backed Millard Fillmorein the presidential election of 1856. With the dissolution of the party following that election, former supporters of Fillmore were up for grabs to both Republicans and Democrats.
Tyler Anbinder, Nativism & Slavery: The Northern Know Nothings & the Politics of the 1850s (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 246-78; Stephen Hansen and Paul Nygard, “Stephen A. Douglas, the Know-Nothings, and the Democratic Party in Illinois, 1854-1858,” Illinois Historical Journal 87 (Summer 1994), 123-29.
9Although Lyman Trumbull was expected to accompany Lincoln to many of his speeches, he had a scheduled speech himself on September 13 in Waterloo, Illinois, approximately a seventy-mile distance on modern roadways.
Alton Daily Courier (Illinois), 21 September 1858, 1:3.
10Douglas negatively called out John M. Palmer in the third and fourth Lincoln-Douglas Debates. In Jonesboro on September 15, Douglas argued that Lincoln was the candidate for U.S. Senate because he was the only choice for Republicans, saying that Palmer "was degraded" and was not a viable option. Douglas said similar on September 18 in Charleston, arguing that Palmer had expected the nomination and was amazed that Lincoln was the ultimate recipient.
Third Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Jonesboro, Illinois; Third Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Jonesboro, Illinois; Third Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Jonesboro, Illinois; Fourth Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Charleston, Illinois; Fourth Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Charleston, Illinois; Fourth Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Charleston, Illinois.
11Lincoln's response, if he penned one, has not been located.
12Lincoln wrote this docketing.

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