Transcribed by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College, Galesburg, IL
Adapted by Ben Lyman, Dickinson College
The following transcript has been adapted from the Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress.
Norwich, Chenango Co. N. Y.
July 27th 1858
My Dear Sir,
You will not consider it an unfavorable reflection on your antecedents, when I tell you that you are like Byron, who woke up one morning and found himself famous. In my journey here from Chicago, and even here -- one of the most out-of-the-way, rural districts in the State, among a slow-going and conservative people, who are further from railroads than any man can be in Illinois -- I have found hundreds of anxious enquirers burning to know all about the newly raised-up opponent of Douglas -- his age, profession, personal appearance and qualities &c &c, I have been, among my old acquaintances, obliged to answer more question relative to you, your prospects in the fight and your chances of a victory, than about all other things beside. In fact, you have sprung at once from the position of a "capital fellow" and a "leading lawyer" in Illinois, to the enjoyment of a national reputation. Your speeches are read with great avidity by all political men, and, I need not say commented upon in a way that would minister abundantly to the appetite for praise, which, I presume, you possess in common with all the world and the mass of mankind.
I tell you all this that you may know that interest in your fight is not confined to Illinois, and to put you on your mettle for other and higher efforts in the oratorical way. You certainly owe it to yourself and not less certainly to your party friends who have honored you by an unanimity of choice that is without parallel except in the histories of Clay, W Benton and Calhoun, to leave nothing undone which may promise to give you a vote. The reputation you have already acquired by entering the lists against a "Giant," will be made permanent by success which no false delicacy must keep you from trying to win by any legitimate means in your power. You have a chance which comes to but few men of each generation. It is for you to make to most of it.
You may have sent me those notes which I have teased you about so frequently. If you have not, I beg you, do not delay their preparation an hour beyond the time necessary to give them completeness and an intelligible shape. They will be forwarded to me here.
Your Bloomington speech is admirable -- more popular than the Convention speech at Springfield; hence, better for the hour. Homely illustration, ad captandum hits and striking comparisons are what the people want.
Excuse my freedom of suggestion and advice, and believe me