Richard Yates to Abraham Lincoln, [26 August 1858]1
Dear Lincoln,
Knowing how a man in your circumstances is beset on every hand I dislike to [wr?] interfere and I have deliberated a good deal before writing. My conclusion is this that a speech from you at Jacksonville and one at Winchester will in all probability count as much as in the next Legislature as any two speeches you can make any where in the State.2 Ordinarily there is too much count on speeches, but still in these3 cases I think it not at all unlikely that your speeches in these two places might save both of our members.4 A go I know a few persons who say they will decide when they have heard Douglas & yourself— and I think I know of a good many who will decide sooner by hearing you.
Therefore send us an appointment for the earliest day you can speak at the two places.5
Could you have any influence in getting Frank Blair to come here and would it be advisable?6
Your friendRichd YatesP.S. We were well satisfied with you at Ottawa. Dug evidently felt bad.7
1Richard Yates wrote and signed this undated letter. The editors have supplied an inferred date of August 26, 1858, based on this letter’s enclosure in a letter of that date from James Berdan.
2Abraham Lincoln was currently on the campaign trail, having been nominated at the 1858 Illinois Republican Convention 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 focused their campaign efforts on the former Whig stronghold of central Illinois, where the state legislative races were the closest. See 1858 Federal Election.
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.
3“this” changed to “these”.
4Morgan and Scott counties constituted the Twenty-Seventh Illinois House of Representatives District, in which Republicans Cyrus Matthews (Mathews) and James Leighton of Morgan and Scott counties respectively were running against Douglas Democrats Cyrus Epler and Elisha B. Hitt. Epler and Hitt won the election, with the returns in Morgan County giving them an almost 300 vote-advantage, despite running behind the Republican candidates in the county’s Jacksonville precinct.
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), 2 October 1858, 2:4; 3 November 1858, 2:3; 4 November 1858, 2:3; Daily Galena Courier (IL), 4 November 1858, 2:3; The Weekly Chicago Times (IL), 11 November 1858, 2:5.
5No response to this letter by Lincoln, nor further correspondence between Yates and Lincoln on the subject of the 1858 election has been located.
Lincoln spoke in Jacksonville on September 27, and in Winchester two days later.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 27 September 1858,; 29 September 1858,
6No correspondence between Lincoln and Francis P. Blair, Jr., regarding Blair speaking in Jacksonville has been located. Blair did, however, appear with Lincoln in that city on September 27, 1858. Blair and Lincoln shared a carriage in a procession before the event and Blair gave a speech preceding Lincoln’s in which he reportedly “ably vindicated the Republican party from the charges of its opponents, and explained his scheme for colonizing the negroes in Central America.”
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 27 September 1858,; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 28 September 1858, 3:1; The Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 29 September 1858, 2:7; Chicago Daily Press and Tribune (IL), 1 October 1858, 2:4.
7Yates is referring to the first of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, held at Ottawa on August 21, 1858.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 21 August 1858,; 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.

Autograph Letter Signed, 1 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).