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

To William Butler [1]

Dear Butler: Vandalia, Jany. 26- 1839

Your letter of the 21st. Inst. is just received. You were in an ill-humor when you wrote that letter, and, no doubt, intended that I should be thrown into one also; which, however, I respectfully decline being done. All you have said about our having been bought up by Taylor, Wright, Turley, [2] enemies &c I know you would not say, seriously, in your moments of reflection; and therefore I do not think it worth while to attempt seriously to prove the contrary to you. I only now say, that I am willing to pledge myself in black and white to cut my own throat from ear to ear, if, when I meet you, you shall seriously say, that you believe me capable of betraying my friends for any price.

The grounds of your complaint I will answer seriously. First, then, as to Athens. We have Allen's [3] letter of which you speak; and although, he did not in that letter, pretend that he was specially authorized to speak for the people of Athens, he did pretend, that he knew their feelings, and that he fairly expressed them. And further; Hall & Francis [4] of Athens are now here, and I assure you, they say nothing about ``giving us hell''. They are as good-humored as I ever saw them. About Cowardin's [5] county. We passed the bill through the House with the lines precisely as Cowardin himself agreed they should pass. After Cowardin left, Turley insisted on having the Buffalo Heart Grove, insisting that the people of that Grove desired to go in the new county. We knew they desired no such thing; and to get rid of Turley's importunity, we promised him, that if he would get a majority of the people of the Grove to petition to go to the new county, we would let him have it. We immediately notified the people of the Grove of this promise; and we, on yesterday received a pe[ti]tion praying that the Grove may remain in the old county; and signed by every citizen in the grovePage  140 but two; so that the grove neither is nor will be struck off to the new county. The lines, and every thing pertaining to that county are now, and will remain just as Cowardin agreed they should be. Wherein, then, has Cowardin, been betrayed, or your pledges to him violated?

Again; as to the Allenton county. [6] You know that we could not control the teritory proposed to be taken from Shelby & Montgomery counties. You complain that we run too far West. The justification for this is, that we could not get the teritory from Montgomery in any other shape, the legislature, recognizing the right of the member from that county, to divide the same as he pleased. And as to the part to be taken from Shelby, that, we could not get at all, Thornton, [7] refusing perem[p]torily to let his county be divided, or curtailed in any way. Since the bill passed the House, Frink [8] has been here (and here let me say, he is not half as mad as you would make us think) and obtained a pledge from Thornton, that if he can get a majority of Shelby county consenting to the curtailment he desires, he, Thornton, will go for it. Frink has gone to Shelby, to get petitioners, and the probability is, that we will yet be able to get from Shelby what Allenton desires. Nothing could do more credit to your heart, than the mortification you express at seeing the friends with whom you acted in getting up the remonstrance disappointed; but surely you ought not to blame us for being unable to accomplish impossibilities.

My respects to Mrs. Butler & Salome. [9] Your friend in spite of your ill-nature LINCOLN

P.S. Judge Stone is here, and I am about to get him to help me about your Clerk-fee appropriation. [10]


[1]   ALS, ICHi.

[2]   John Taylor, who had actively led the petitioners for the new county of Menard; John Wright and George W. Turley, of Mt. Pulaski, active petitioners for the new county of Logan.

[3]   Probably James D. Allen, a merchant at Athens.

[4]   Josiah N. Francis and Calvin Francis, brothers of Simeon Francis, both of whom resided at Athens at this time; Josiah was the more active in politics. ``Hall'' has not been identified.

[5]   Peter G. Cowardin, who was active for the creation of Logan County.

[6]   Allenton was the name of a community no longer in existence in what later became Christian County.

[7]   William F. Thornton, representative from Shelby County.

[8]   William S. Frink, a leading citizen of the Allenton community.

[9]   Salome was Butler's oldest daughter.

[10]   Judge Daniel Stone. See Lincoln's bill for the relief of the circuit clerk, February 6, infra.