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

To Josephus Hewett [1]

Dear Hewett: Washington, Feb. 13. 1848.

Your whig representative from Mississippi, P. W. Tompkins, [2] has just shown me a letter of yours to him. I am jealous because you did not write to me. Perhaps you have forgotten me. Dont you remember a long black fellow who rode on horseback with you from Tremont to Springfield nearly ten years ago, swiming your horses over the Mackinaw on the trip? Well, I am that same one fellow yet. I was once of your opinion, expressed in your letter, that presidential electors should be dispensed with; but a more thorough knowledge of the causes that first introduced them, has made me doubt. Those causes were briefly these. The convention that framed the constitution had this difficulty: the small states wished to so frame the new government as that they might be equal to the large ones regardless of the inequality of population; the large ones insisted on equality in proportion to population. They compromised it, by basing the House of Representatives on population, and the Senate on states regardless of population; and the executive on both principles, by electors in each state, equal in numbers to her senators and representatives. Now, throw away the machinery of electors, and the compromise is broken up, and the whole yielded to the principle of the large states. There is one thing more. In the slave states, you have representatives, and consequently, electors, partly upon the basis of your black population, which would be swept away by the change you seem to think desireable. Have you ever reflected on these things?

But to come to the main point, I wish you to know that I have made a speech in congress, and that I want you to be enlightened by reading it; to further which object, I send a copy of the speech by this mail.

For old acquaintance sake, if for nothing else, be sure to write me on receiving this. I was very near forgetting to tell you that on my being introduced to Genl. Quitman, [3] and telling him I was from Springfield, Illinois, he at once remarked ``Then you are acquainted with my valued friend Hewett of Natchez,'' and on being assured I was, he said such things about you as I like to hear said about my own valued friends. Yours as ever


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[1]   ALS-P, ISLA. Hewett had formerly practiced law in Springfield, Illinois, but was in 1848 a resident of Natchez, Mississippi.

[2]   Patrick W. Tompkins was a Whig who stayed at the same boarding house as did Lincoln.

[3]   John A. Quitman, Democrat, lawyer, member of the Mississippi House of Representatives 1826-1827, chancellor of the state 1828-1835, senator 1835-1836, brigadier general of Volunteers 1846, major general in Regular Army 1847.