Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 1.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

To Mary S. Owens [1]

Mary Vandalia, Decr. 13 1836

I have been sick ever since my arrival here, [2] or I should have written sooner. It is but little difference, however, as I have verry little even yet to write. And more, the longer I can avoid the mortification of looking in the Post Office for your letter and not finding it, the better. You see I am mad about that old letter yet. I dont like verry well to risk you again. I'll try you once more any how.

The new State House [3] is not yet finished, and consequently the legislature is doing little or nothing. The Governor [4] delivered an inflamitory political Message, and it is expected there will be some sparring between the parties about [it as] soon as the two Houses get to business. Taylor [5] [deliv]ered up his petitions for the New County to one of [our me]mbers this morning. I am told that he dispairs [of its] success on account of all the members from Morg[an C]ounty opposing it. There are names enough on the petitions[,] I think, to justify the members from our county in going for it; but if the members from Morgan oppose it, which they [say] they will, the chance will be bad.

Our chance to [take th]e seat of Government to Springfield is better than I ex[pected]. An Internal Improvement Convention was held here since we met, which recommended a loan of several milli[ons] of dollars on the faith of the State to construct Rail Roads. Some of the legislature are for it[,] and some against it; which has the majority I can not tell. There is great strife and struggling for the office of U.S. Senator here at this time. It is probable we shall ease their pains in a few days. The opposition men have no candidate of their own, and consequently they smile as complacently at the angry snarls of the contending Van Buren candidates and their respective friends, as the christain does at Satan's rage. You recollect I mentioned in the outset of this letter that I had been unwell. That is the fact, though I believe I am about well now; but that, with other things I can not account for, have conspired and have gotten my spirits so low, that I feel that I would rather be any place in the world than here. I really canPage  55 not endure the though of staying here ten weeks. Write back as soon as you get this, and if possible say something that will please me, for really I have not [been] pleased since I left you. This letter is so dry and [stupid] that I am ashamed to send it, but with my pres[ent feel]ings I can not do any better. Give my respects to M[r. and] Mrs. Abell [6] and family. Your friend

Miss Mary S. Owens LINCOLN


[1]   ALS, owned by Mary King. The manuscript is damaged in spots: portions of the text now illegible are bracketed as from NH.

Mary Owens first came to New Salem in 1833 to visit her sister, Mrs. Bennett Abell. Upon a later visit in 1836, brought about by the match-making activities of Mrs. Abell, who suggested to Lincoln that he marry her sister, Mary Owens and Lincoln reached some sort of understanding. That the prospects were not satisfactory to either party is evident from Lincoln's letters to Mary and from the letters which Mary wrote to William H. Herndon in 1866, answering queries about her side of the affair.

[2]   Lincoln attended the opening session of the legislature on December 5.

[3]   This was the third State House, begun in August, 1836, when the old building collapsed beyond repair.

[4]   Governor Joseph Duncan, whose message denounced President Jackson's policies.

[5]   John Taylor. The ``new county'' was named ``Menard.''

[6]   Variant spellings in other sources are ``Abel'' and ``Able.''