James Shields to Abraham Lincoln, 17 September 18421Tremont, Sept. 17, 1842.2A. Lincoln Esq[Esquire].
In your reply to my note of this date, you intimate that I assume facts, and menace consequences, and that you cannot submit to answer it further. As now, sir, you desire it, I will be a little more particular. The editor of the Sangamo Journal gave me to understand that you are the author of an article which appeared I think in that paper of the 2d Sept.[September] inst, headed the Lost Townships, and signed Rebecca or Becca. I would therefore ^[Your Ob’t Serv’t[Obedient Servant]Jas. Shields
...?]^ take the liberty of asking whether you are the author of said article ^or^ any other over the same signature, which has appeared in any of the late numbers
of that paper. If so, I repeat my request of an absolute retraction of all offensive
allusion contained therein in relation to my private character and standing. If you
are not the author of any of the articles, your denial will be sufficient. I will
say further, it is not my intention to menace, but to do myself justice.3
1James Shields wrote this letter and John D. Whiteside hand-delivered it to Abraham Lincoln. The original handwritten version of this document is not known to exist. The text of the letter was subsequently published in the Sangamo Journal on October 14, 1842.
Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 7 October 1842, 2:5; 14 October 1842, 2:3-5.
2Lincoln was in Tremont attending to cases in the Tazewell County Circuit Court. Shields traveled there in order to confront Lincoln.
Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 7 October 1842, 2:5.
3When Whiteside delivered the letter to Lincoln, Lincoln replied to him verbally that he would not “negociate for peace” with Shields unless Shields withdrew his earlier letter.
Handwritten Transcription, 1 page(s), Ward H. Lamon Collection, Huntington Library (San Marino, CA).