Washington, Nov. 23d, 1859
Hon. A. Lincoln,
My Dear Sir,
Am obliged for the information in regard to the meeting of the National Committee. I confess myself disappointed at McClernand's majority – The truth is, that we have got about all we ever will from the old Whig element in central Ill. We must hereafter rely upon obtaining accessions from the young men & from the Democracy. About the hardest man on earth to get along with is an old Whig of pro-slavery proclivities. I reckon the Harpers Ferry affair damaged Palmer somewhat.
I met Cameron on the cars on my way here. He is in earnest about getting the Pa. delegation for himself, & I reckon will succeed. Nobody seems to say much about Read.
I passed a few days in New York City & there learned that the New York politicians were very much in favor of making Forney clk of the House, & that too without any assurance from him that he would act with the Republicans. The idea seemed to be that Forney could bring enough Anti Lecompton Democrats to act with the Republicans to give them the Speaker &c – When will the leading men of our party learn to pursue a straight forward course? Till they do, Republicanism can never have, & might never to have a permanent hold in the country. What consumate folly to bargain with half a dozen Douglasites & that the most active of them all to an important office, where he can wield a large influence in favor of his pet man, & to our prejudice. Douglas & his popular sovereignty humbug are the only things which now keep the great mass of Northern Repub Democrats from uniting with the Republicans at once. For my part, I believe it would be much better that the Democrats should organize the house by a bargain with Know Nothings, & anti-Lecomptonites, than that we should do it; but if the Republican members will go right along supporting no man for any of the offices who is not prepared to act with the Republican party, they being the strongest party in the house, will in the end succeed. If Forney or the South Americans will be of us & act with us, we ought to be liberal towards them; but it certainly cannot be our policy as a party to support any man, who will use the influence of his office to build up another party to our prejudice—
The Anti Lecomptonites & the South Americans will in my opinion in the end come to act with us, if we pursue a straight forward course without assailing them; but they will never do this, while the idea is held out that the Republican party will go to them.
Since commencing this letter, two Gentlemen residents of Washington have called upon me, stating, that one of them had been just been arrested for using language hostile to slavery – He had given bail for his appearance before a justice of the peace on Friday, & called to advise with me about the matter. What are we coming to? Excuse this long letter.
SOURCE: Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.