Abraham Lincoln to Richard Oglesby, September 8, 1854, in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln: First Supplement (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1974), p. 24, 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
The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.
Springfield, Sept. 8, 1854
R.J. Oglesby, Esq.
You perhaps know how anxious I am for Yates’ re-election in this District. I understand his enemies are getting up a charge against him, that while he passes for a temperate man, he is in the habit of drinking secretly –and that they calculate on proving an instance of the charge by you. If, indeed, you have told them any thing, I can not help thinking they have misunderstood what you did tell them. Other things being equal, I would much prefer a temperate man, to an intemperate one; still I do not make my vote depend absolutely upon the question of whether a candidate does or does not taste liquor.
Thousands and thousands of us, in point of fact, have known Yates for more than twenty years; and as I have never seen him drink liquor, nor act, or speak, as if he had been drinking, nor smelled it on his breath, nor heard any man say he ever had and as he has been twice elected to congress without any such thing being discovered I can not but think such a charge as the above must be incorrect. Will you please write me, and tell me what the truth of the matter is? I will reciprocate at any time.