Samuel B. Gookins to Abraham Lincoln, 11 August 18561
CopyTerre Haute, Aug. 11, 1856,Dear Sir,
Our people are exceedingly desirous to have you attend and make a speech on the Political Issue of the times on the 3rd Sept.[September] Judge Morton our candidate for Governor will be here that day and the afternoon and evening will be occupied in speaking. A large crowd is expected. Come if you can possibly do so, and write me beforehand.2 Friends are prepared to pay Expenses, etc.
Besides the call made by our fellow citizens I would add my own earnest persuasions did I not know that the call which the country makes upon every man, to do his duty, has already presented itself to you with infinitely more force than I could do and I cannot doubt it will be available in this instance, unless circumstances beyond your control shall decide otherwise.Most truly yours,S. B. Gookins.Hon. A. Lincoln.
1This letter is attributed to Samuel B. Gookins, but no manuscript version in his hand has been located.
2No response to this letter by Abraham Lincoln has been located.
Oliver P. Morton was running for governor of Indiana as the candidate of the People’s Party, an anti-Nebraska fusion organization that was the precursor to the Republican Party in that state. After some communication and scheduling difficulties, Morton and his Democratic rival, Ashbel P. Willard, had agreed to a series of debates, including a joint appearance at Terre Haute on September 3, 1856. This proposed Terre Haute meeting was one of several such appearances from which they later mutually withdrew. Morton appeared by himself in Terre Haute on September 9, with a plan to speak at a mass meeting in Vigo County soon thereafter. Morton ultimately lost the election to Willard by about six thousand votes.
While Lincoln delivered a speech in Kalamazoo, Michigan in August 1856, he did not visit Indiana or otherwise leave the state of Illinois in September 1856, although from July onwards, he gave over fifty speeches across Illinois in support of the presidential campaign of John C. Fremont and to rally the disparate elements of the emerging Republican Party. See the 1856 Federal Election.
Ed Runden, “Oliver P. Morton,” The Governors of Indiana, ed. by Linda C. Gugin and James E. St. Clair (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press, 2006), 141; William Dudley Foulke, Life of Oliver P. Morton Including his Important Speeches (Indianapolis, IN and Kansas City, MO: Bowen-Merrill, 1899), 1:49-57; The Evansville Daily Journal (IN), 2 September 1856, 3:1; The Wabash Express (Terre Haute, IN), 10 September 1856, 2:5; The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, September 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarMonth&year=1856&month=9; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:425-33.
Handwritten Transcription, 1 page(s), Volume Volume 2, Herndon-Weik Collection of Lincolniana, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).