Leander Munsell to Abraham Lincoln, 16 August 18581
Hon Ab. LincolnDear Sir
I have read with pleasure your able defence of your self, and of the principles of the Republican party, they are satisfactory and to my mind conclusive, and yet my old friend, you will pardon me, I feel assured, if I criticise your efforts, and do me the justice to believe that my motives are kind although I may be mistaken in the conclusions I have come to.2 To me it seems clear that you have acted too much on the defensive in your public discourses, the defence has been complete, but your efforts to my ^mind^ have been less effective with the masses, than a much less expenditure of mental labour would
<Page 2>
have been, had you paid less attention to your own positions and carried the “War into Africa3 In all that constitutes the man you are at least the equal of Douglass– In fair debate and on equal grounds you can vanquish him, but he is a better tactician than you are. He is a droit in assailing his competitor and has managed to keep you too much on your defence. I would make the defence of my own position or that of our party occupy the smallest possible space, but I would assail him at every vulnerable point and if you can succeed in turning his attention more to the defence of himself you will make a deeper impression on the multitude. I feel satisfied we can beat them this fall, We must do it. Your friends
<Page 3>
regard your speeches as highly creditable to yourself and to them, many of us think however that you have failed to press Douglass as hard he ought to be, and as far as truth and public justice demands4
You will please excuse the liberty I have taken, reflect on what I have written and then be guided by your own judgement.
I am pleased to learn that you will be with us in Sept[September] and we will try and have a goodly number to hear you, and I hope and trust our County will give a good account of herself in November5
Respy Yrs[Respectfully Yours]L Munsell6

<Page 4>
PARIS Ill.[Illinois]
Hon Abram LincolnSpringfieldIllinois
[ docketing ]
L. Munsell7
1Leander Munsell wrote and signed this letter, including the address on the envelope.
2Abraham Lincoln was at this time running against Stephen A. Douglas to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate, having been selected as the Republican candidate at the 1858 Illinois Republican Convention in June. Two of his campaign speeches in which he defended himself and the Republican Party that were published in newspapers were his July 10, 1858 speech in Chicago and his July 17, 1858 speech in Springfield. Of the two speeches, it is likely that Munsell had recently read Lincoln’s Springfield speech, as Lincoln had seen into publication in pamphlet form earlier in August, and had been dispatching copies of the pamphlet for distribution a few days prior to the date of this letter.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:457-58; Report of Speech at Chicago, Illinois; Report of Speech at Chicago, Illinois; Report of Speech at Chicago, Illinois; Speech at Springfield, Illinois; Report of Speech at Springfield, Illinois; Report of Speech at Springfield, Illinois; Abraham Lincoln to Gustave P. Koerner; Speech of Hon. Abraham Lincoln, Delivered in Springfield, Saturday Evening, July 17, 1858 ([Springfield?]: n.p., [1858?]); Abraham Lincoln to Daniel A. Cheever; Unknown to Abraham Lincoln.
3To “carry the war into Africa” is to attack rather than acting defensively. The phrase is associated with Scipio Africanus, the Roman consul and general who mounted a successful military campaign in Africa against the Carthaginians during the Second Punic War.
J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), 2:920; Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth, eds., The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd ed. rev. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 398.
4Several other correspondents wrote to Lincoln during the election campaign of 1858 to encourage him to attack Douglas offensively in his speeches, rather than speak defensively.
John Mathers to Abraham Lincoln; John Trible to Abraham Lincoln; Johnson H. Jordan to Abraham Lincoln; David Davis to Abraham Lincoln; Joseph Medill to Abraham Lincoln.
5Lincoln addressed a Republican meeting in Paris on September 7, 1858. The Chicago Tribune described the audience for Lincoln’s Paris speech as “larger by five hundred persons than that which came together last month to make the Douglas ‘demonstration’”, not counting a sizeable contingent from Indiana who had attended Douglas’ speech.
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 focused their campaign efforts on the former Whig stronghold of central Illinois, where the state legislative races were the closest, and Edgar County was one such formerly Whig locale. As Munsell predicted, Republican candidates for the General Assembly were successful in Edgar County in the election of 1858. Edgar County constituted the Twenty-Fourth Illinois House of Representatives District, where Republican Robert Moseley earned 1,453 votes and defeated Democrat Charles Summers, who received 1,400 votes. The county was part of the Eighteenth Illinois Senate District, where Republican Thomas A. Marshall defeated Democrat Usher F. Linder. The vote tally in Edgar County was 1,437 votes for Marshall, and 1,428 for Linder.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 7 September 1858, https://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1858-09-07; Report of Speech at Paris, Illinois; Chicago Daily Press and Tribune (IL), 11 September 1858, 2:5; 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, 1:476-77; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 219, 222; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 4 November 1858, 3:2; The Weekly Chicago Times (IL), 11 November 1858, 4:2.
6No response to this letter, nor further correspondence between Munsell and Lincoln on the subject has been located.
7Lincoln wrote this docketing.

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