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
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.
Washington, July 10, 1848
Your letter covering the newspaper slips, was received last night. The subject of that letter is exceedingly painful to me; and I can not but think there is some mistake in your impression of the motives of the old men. I suppose I am now one of the old men---and I declare on my veracity, which I think is good with you, that nothing could afford me more satisfaction than to learn that you and others of my young friends at home, were doing battle in the contest, and endearing themselves to the people, and taking a stand far above any I have ever been able to reach, in their admiration. I can not conceive that other old men feel differently. Of course I can not demonstrate what I say; but I was young once, and I am sure I was never ungenerously thrust back. I hardly know what to say. The way for a young man to rise, is to improve himself every way he can, never suspecting that any body wishes to hinder him. Allow me to assure you, that suspicion and jealousy never did help any man in any situation. There may sometimes be ungenerous attempts to keep a young man down; and they will succeed too, if he allows his mind to be diverted from its true channel to brood over the attempted injury. Cast about, and see if this feeling has not injured every person you have ever known to fall into it.
Now, in what I have said, I am sure you will suspect nothing but sincere friendship. I would save you from a fatal error. You have been a laborious, studious young man. You are far better informed on almost all subjects than I have ever been. You can not fail in any laudable object, unless you allow your mind to be improperly directed. I have some the advantage of you in the world's experience, merely by being older; and it is this that induces me to advise….
Your friend, as ever