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

Remarks in Illinois Legislature on Election of House Members to Office [1]

December 21, 1838

Mr. Lincoln moved its [2] reference to the committee on Internal Improvements. Mr. Smith of Wabash, and Mr. Thornton, both seemed to regard this as a direct attack on them. They were members of this committee, interested in the decision; and they would not allow the insinuation. They would hold the gentleman from Sangamon responsible, &c, &c. Mr. Lincoln replied, he did not move the reference with any such design as had been attributed to him. He had always been the friend of both the gentlemen; and at the last extra session he had voted against such a proposition, because his friend from Wabash was personally interested then in the decision, being at that time in the employ of the State. But he would now assure the gentlemen, that the proposition to refer did not originate with him. He was requested to make the motion by one of their especial friends, and a member of the same committee, viz: the gentleman from Perry (Mr. Murphy,) and to oblige him he had made the motion. But he was glad he had made it; the hydra was exposed; and all the talk about settling this matter at anotherPage  125 tribunal, he had no objection to, if gentlemen insisted on it. He was always ready, and never shrunk from responsibility.


[1]   Alton Telegraph, December 29, 1838.

[2]   A resolution proposed by Archibald Williams, representative from Adams County, on December 20, as follows: ``That we deprecate the practice of the General Assembly of electing members of their own body to fill State offices, as corrupting in its tendencies, by throwing around such members as intend to become candidates for such offices an influence adverse to impartial legislation'' (House Journal, Eleventh General Assembly, First Session, p. 120). The resolution was adopted, with amendments, but on the following day a motion for reconsideration was made by Benjamin Johnson of Bond County. Lincoln's remarks were made, following acrimonious debate, on a motion to refer the resolution to the committee on the judiciary. Lincoln's motion and remarks are not recorded in the House Journal, but the motion to refer to the committee on the judiciary is recorded as decided in the negative, and hence the resolution remained as adopted the preceding day.