(Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Mary Todd Lincoln, March 4, 1860).
Mr. Lincoln did not like to be obligated but he did like to oblige when it came to patronage. President Lincoln wrote Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase on May 10, 1861: “I have felt myself obliged to refuse the post-office at this place to my old friend Nathan Sargent, which wounds him, and consequently me, very deeply. He now says there is an office in your department, called the ‘Commissioner of Customs,’ which the incumbent, a Mr. Ingham, wishes to vacate. I will be very much obliged if you agree for me to appoint Mr. Sargent to this place.” 134 As was his custom, President Lincoln listened to local officials in making decisions. In March 1861 Illinois Republicans in Congress – Lyman Trumbull, Elihu. B. Washburne, William Kellogg, Owen Lovejoy, and Isaac N. Arnold – wrote the President with their patronage requests:
Basler, Editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume IV, pp.
Upon arrival in Springfield, Mr. Lincoln had immediately gone into partnership with John Todd Stuart, whom he had met while serving in the Black Hawk War. Like Mr. Lincoln, Stuart had been born in Kentucky and become an Illinois Whig. Stuart was not necessarily the best mentor for a young lawyer because he devoted more attention to politics than to the law, but he had had encouraged Mr. Lincoln to pursue this profession. Historian Brian Dirck wrote that “By 1836 he was a regular visitor to John Stuart’s law office, located on the second floor of Hoffman’s Row, a line of two-story brick buildings located a block away from the main square. It wasn’t much of an office: mismatched chairs, a table, and a bookshelf, likely permeated with the smell of tobacco and piles of musty papers. But it was well located – right over the county courthouse on the first floor, and in the middle of what was becoming a bustling business and government district in Springfield.”10
Springfield was at the center of the state’s political activity in 1858. Historian Christopher N. Breiseth wrote that “Springfield was something of a prairie Philadelphia in 1858. In and around the statehouse and the courthouse political activity was at a fever pitch. Throughout the year, statewide and county conventions and party caucuses for the Douglas Democrats, the Buchanan Democrats, the Fillmore Americans, and the Republicans met in Springfield to fashion the platforms and strategies each carried into the campaign of summer and fall. Representatives from all parts of Illinois, from Chicago to Cairo, from Galena and Quincy to Danville and Charleston, converged repeated on this capital city, estimated by contemporaries to include thirteen thousand, to debate issues threatening to tear the country apart.”74 With an office near the State Capitol, Mr. Lincoln was a frequent visitor there – for research, political information and companionship.
Nicolay and John Hay, Abraham Lincoln: A History, Volume II.
Republicans minimized the differences between Douglas and Breckinridge and argued that the only way to repudiate Buchanan was to vote for Lincoln.”42
After the tumultuous spring conventions, the fall campaign was almost an anticlimax.
Knapp to Abraham Lincoln, May 14, 1860).
It was carried aloft in parades; flaming banners fluttered from it at rallies; glee-clubs sang its praises; campaign-clubs proudly called themselves Railsplitters, Rail-maulers, and Rail-splitter Wide-awakes; lusty men, mounted on huge wagons, split rails as processions moved along; and ‘Lincoln rails’ (of unquestioned authenticity) adorned hundreds of homes.” 40
To educate voters about their “Railsplitter” candidate, several biographies were compiled and widely distributed.
Basler, Editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln,Volume IV, p.
Abraham Lincoln, and may be unable to hear him in this city to-night, arrangements, arrangements have been made to run an Extra Train to Meriden on Wednesday night.
Nicolay and John Hay, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, Volume II.
State Superintendent of Instruction Norman Bateman recalled: “His surviving friends in Springfield will never forget the long-familiar spectacle of his towering form in the street with Rob or Will or Tad, or all three, perhaps, at his side- nor his exhaustless imperturbability and good-humored patience at the pranks and antics of his boys. They would sometimes be sent to hasten his steps homeward to dinner or tea. Promptly sallying forth from his office, he was sure to be stopped by some friend or neighbor at nearly every street corner, for a little chat – for somehow, the very streets seemed brighter when Abraham Lincoln appeared in them, and the moodiest face lightened up as his gaunt figure and pleasant face were seem approaching. But these detentions were not appreciated by the boys, whose keen appetites stirred them on to get Paterfamilias home as soon as possible. In the course of these efforts by the youngsters, the future President of the United States was very often placed in very amusing positions and attitudes. The spectacle of two little chaps tugging and pulling at his coat-tails, while the third pushed in front, was often beheld – while Mr. Lincoln, talking and laughing, and pretending to scold, but all the while backing under the steady pressure of the above-mentioned forces, raised his voice louder and louder as he receded, till it died away in the distance and further conversation became impossible. He then faced about, and the little fellows hurried him off in triumph towards home.”47
Nicolay and John Hay, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, Volume II.
The Republican delegation officially notifying Mr. Lincoln of his nomination arrived in Springfield on Saturday, May 22. It included Maryland’s Francis P. Blair, Sr.; Ohio Republican Chairman David K. Cartter; Judge William D. Kelley of Pennsylvania; New York Governor Edwin D. Morgan; New Hampshire Republican leader Edward H. Rollins; future Interior Secretary Caleb Smith, future Michigan Governor Austin Blair; New York Times Editor Henry J. Raymond, and future General Carl Schurz of Wisconsin. John Hay, a Brown University graduate who was studying law in Springfield, wrote: “On Saturday morning an immense concourse of the people met at the great Western railroad depot to receive the committee appointed by the late convention to make to Mr. Lincoln the formal announcement of his nomination. As the train came rushing in, the delegation was welcomed with round after round of rousing, electrifying western cheers. A procession was speedily formed to escort the committee to their hotel. Conspicuous in the line of march was a squad of enthusiastic Republicans, with venerable fence rails, borne a la militaire, which Lincoln might have rived in his stalwart youth, in the days when a pen would have been an awkward toy in his hand, and the coon-skin cap shaded his black locks so comfortably as to leave no wan for the civic crown.”87