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.
Chicago, April 19, 1858
In answer to yours, I would note that minorities should never place themselves on the defensive. We do not know our position. We do not know how the present Congress will leave the great questions of the day. We do not know what position Douglass [Douglas] will assume when he comes home.
We want to beat Douglass & co. Let us pitch into them. Let us combine all the opposition. Let us have neither men nor measures to defend. Our business is war, war war on them! They cannot war on us, for we have said nothing, have done nothing, have no candidates. Douglass is never so much at home as on the attack; & never so weak as on the defence.
Let the Buchanan men & Douglass men fight among themselves. For the present, let us do nothing at all.
The trouble in our Republican ranks is that we have so many leaders who profit nothing by experience, & rush headling into notions that may be right in the abstract but fatal in actual practice just now.
I have but just returned from New York. I fear that Seward, Weed & others of that school are for Douglass.
A reliable republican, but an old line whig lawyer in this city, told me to day that he himself had seen a letter from one of our Republican Congressmen advising us all to go for the reelection of Judge Douglass. He said he was enjoined to keep the author a secret & he was going to do so.
From him, I learnt that he was not an old line Democrat or abolitionist. This narrows the contest down to the Congressmen from the Galena and Fulton Dists.
In this region, the abolitionists & old line democrats are strong against Douglass. You must see that he does not get the Republicans who were old line whigs.
I fear, Lincoln, that you are sold for the Senate by men who are drinking the wine of Douglass at Washington.
But let us have no Convention until we can see who is who.