In this letter to his law partner written from Washington, Congressman Lincoln offered advice about how to get ahead. William H. Herndon was about a decade younger than Abraham Lincoln. Both were members of the Whig Party and had been active in politics around Springfield, Illinois. Responding to some complaints from Herndon about how older, more established figures in their party were holding back the younger, aspiring politicians, Lincoln identified himself as one of the "old men" and suggested to his friend that he stop blaming others. "The way for a young man to rise," Lincoln wrote, "is to improve himself every way he can." (By Matthew Pinsker)
Abraham Lincoln to William Herndon, Washington, DC, July 10, 1848 in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (8 vols., New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 1: 498-499, http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/.
Transcription adapted from The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953), edited by Roy P. Basler
Adapted by Matthew Pinsker, Dickinson College