In the summer of 1854, Abraham Lincoln was a 45-year-old attorney and former one-term US congressman living in Springfield, Illinois. However, in this letter to Richard Yates, his local congressman and fellow Whig, Lincoln acted and sounded more like a political party boss than anything else. He used this letter to organize Yates's announcement for his campaign for reelection to Congress. Lincoln wanted to avoid holding a convention to secure Yates's renomination because the partisan situation that summer was in turmoil, not only over the controversy surrounding the Kansas-Nebraska Act, but also because of the rise of anti-immigrant nativism. Lincoln made reference to coordinating with those so-called "Know Nothings," in this letter by referring to their local leader, Benjamin S. Edwards, whom Lincoln deemed "entirely satisfied." The newspapers did announce Yates's availability the next week, though without mentioning the Whig Party label. He was ultimately defeated in the November 1854 midterm elections. (By Matthew Pinsker)
Abraham Lincoln to Richard Yates, Springfield, Illinois, August 18, 1854 in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (8 vols., New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 2: 226, 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