Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 2.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
Page  528

To Stephen A. Douglas [1]

Hon. S. A. Douglas Springfield,
Dear Sir July 29. 1858

Yours of the 24th. in relation to an arrangement to divide time and address the same audiences, is received; and, in apology for not sooner replying, allow me to say that when I sat by you at dinner yesterday [2] I was not aware that you had answered my note, nor certainly, that my own note had been presented to you. An hour after I saw a copy of your answer in the Chicago Times; and, reaching home, I found the original awaiting me. Protesting that your insinuations of attempted unfairness on my part are unjust; and with the hope that you did not very considerately make them, I proceed to reply. To your statement that ``It has been suggested recently that an arrangement had been made to bring out a third candidate for the U. S. Senate [3] who, with yourself, should canvass the state in opposition to me &c.'' I can only say that such suggestion must have been made by yourself; for certainly none such has been made by, or to me; or otherwise, to my knowledge. Surely you did not deliberately conclude, as you insinuate, that I was expecting to draw you into an arrangement, of terms to be agreed on by yourself, by which a third candidate, and my self, ``in concert, might be able to take the opening and closing speech in every case.''

Page  529As to your surprise that I did not sooner make the proposal to divide time with you, I can only say I made it as soon as I resolved to make it. I did not know but that such proposal would come from you; I waited respectfully to see. It may have been well known to you that you went to Springfield for the purpose of agreeing on the plan of campaign; but it was not so known to me. When your appointments were announced in the papers, extending only to the 21st. of August, I, for the first time, considered it certain that you would make no proposal to me; and then resolved, that if my friends concurred, I would make one to you. As soon thereafter as I could see and consult with friends satisfactorily, I did make the proposal. It did not occur to me that the proposed arrangement could derange your plan, after the latest of your appointments already made. After that, there was, before the election, largely over two months of clear time.

For you to say that we have already spoken at Chicago and Springfield, and that on both occasions I had the concluding speech, is hardly a fair statement. The truth rather is this. At Chicago, July 9th, you made a carefully prepared conclusion on my speech of June 16th.; twentyfour hours after I made a hasty conclusion on yours of the 9th.; you had six days to prepare, and concludedPage  530 on me again at Bloomington on the 16th.; twentyfour hours after I concluded on you again at Springfield. In the mean time you had made another conclusion on me at Springfield, which I did not hear, and of the contents of which I knew nothing when I spoke; so that your speech made in day-light, and mine at night of the 17th. at Springfield were both made in perfect independence of each other. The dates of making all these speeches, [4] will show, I think, that in the matter of time for preparation, the advantage has all been on your side; and that none of the external circumstances have stood to my advantage.

I agree to an arrangement for us to speak at the seven places you have named, and at your own times, provided you name the times at once, so that I, as well as you, can have to myself the time not covered by the arrangement. As to other details, I wish perfect reciprocity, and no more. I wish as much time as you, and that conclusions shall alternate. That is all. Your obedient Servant


P.S. As matters now stand, I shall be at no more of your exclusive meetings; and for about a week from to-day a letter from you will reach me at Springfield. A. L.


[1]   ALS copy, DLC-RTL, and Debates Scrapbook, ORB. Douglas' letter of the 24th (DLC-RTL) is as follows:

To Hon. A. Lincoln Chicago,

Dear Sir: July 24th, 1858

Your note of this date, in which you inquire if it would be agreeable to me to make an arrangement to divide the time and address the same audiences during the present canvass was handed me by Mr Judd.

Recent events have interposed difficulties in the way of such an arrangement. I went to Springfield last week for the purpose of conferring with the Democratic State Central committee upon the mode of conducting the canvass and with them and under their advice, made a list of appointments covering the entire period until late in October. The people of the several localities have been notified of the time and places of the meetings. These appointments have all been made for Democratic meetings and arrangements have been made by which the Democratic candidates for congress, for the Legislature and other offices will be present and address the people. It is evident, therefore, that these various candidates, in connection with myself, will occupy the whole time of the day and evening and leave no opportunity for other speeches.

Besides, there is another consideration which should be kept in mind. It has been suggested recently that an arrangement had been made to bring out a third candidate for the U. S. Senate, who, with yourself, should canvass the state in opposition to me, and with no other purpose than to insure my defeat by dividing the Democratic party for your benefit. If I should make this arrangement with you, it is more than probable that this other candidate, who has a common object with you, would desire to become a party to it and claim the right to speak from the same stand; so that he and you in concert might be able to take the opening and closing speech in every case.

I cannot refrain from expressing my surprise, if it was your original intention to invite such an arrangement that you should have waited until after I had made my appointments, inasmuch as we were both here in Chicago together for several days after my arrival, and again at Bloomington, Atlanta, Lincoln and Springfield, where it was well known I went for the purpose of consulting with the State Central Committee and agreeing upon the plan of campaign.

While under these circumstances I do not feel at liberty to make any arrangement which would deprive the Democratic candidates for congress, State officers and the Legislature from participating in the discussion at the various meetings designated by the Democratic State Central Committee, I will, in order to accommodate you as far as it is in my power to do so, take the responsibility of making an arrangement with you for a discussion between us at one prominent point in each congressional district in the state, excepting the second and sixth districts, where we have both spoken and in each of which cases you had the concluding speech. If agreeable to you I will indicate the following places as those most suitable in the several congressional districts at which we should speak, to wit, Freeport, Ottawa, Galesburg, Quincy, Alton, Jonesboro and Charleston.

I will confer with you at the earliest convenient opportunity in regard to the mode of conducting the debate and the times of meeting at the several places subject to the condition that where appointments have already been made by the Democratic State Central Committee at any of those places I must insist upon your meeting me at the times specified. Very respectfully, Your Obd't Servant S. A. DOUGLAS.

[2]   Whether Lincoln and Douglas dined at Clinton or Decatur is uncertain.

[3]   The story that Justice Sidney Breese of the Illinois Supreme Court was about to become a candidate had appeared in the Republican press.

[4]   This clause is inserted above the following deletion: ``The contents of all these speeches and the dates of making them.''