To Salmon P. Chase

A few days late again, I know.  This was written in 1859, after Lincoln’s defeat by Stephen Douglas for the Illinois senate seat.  The upcoming presidential election is clearly on Lincoln’s mind and this letter shows Lincoln’s growing involvement in national politics.  Salmon Chase was to become Lincoln’s Treasury Secretary.

Hon: S. P. Chase:            Springfield, Ills.
Dear Sir                            June 9. 1859

Please pardon the liberty I take in addressing you, as I now do. It appears by the papers that the late Republican State convention of Ohio adopted a Platform, of which the following is one plank, “A repeal of the atrocious Fugitive Slave Law.”

This is already damaging us here. I have no doubt that if that plank be even introduced into the next Republican National convention, it will explode it. Once introduced, its supporters and it’s opponents will quarrel irreconcilably. The latter believe the U.S. constitution declares that a fugitive slave “shall be delivered up”; and they look upon the above plank as dictated by the spirit which declares a fugitive slave “shall not be delivered up

I enter upon no argument one way or the other; but I assure you the cause of Republicanism is hopeless in Illinois, if it be in any way made responsible for that plank. I hope you can, and will, contribute something to relieve us from it.

Your Obt. Servt.



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