Letter to Samuel Galloway (March 24, 1860)


#141 on the list of 150 Most Teachable Lincoln Documents

Annotated Transcript

“My name is new in the field; and I suppose I am not the first choice of a very great many. Our policy, then, is to give no offence to others—leave them in a mood to come to us, if they shall be compelled to give up their first love.” 

On This Date

HD Daily Report, March 24, 1860

The Lincoln Log, March 24, 1860

Custom Map

Screen shot 2014-01-26 at 5.18.25 PM
View in Larger Map

How Historians Interpret

“From New York, Lincoln continued on to New England for two arduous weeks of speechmaking. He returned home in the middle of March, weary but pleased by the results of his Eastern tour. Now more or less openly a presidential candidate, he explained his strategy to a supporter in Ohio, where another party leader, Salmon P. Chase, was eyeing the nomination.”

— Don Edward Fehrenbacher, Abraham Lincoln: a Documentary Portrait Through his Speeches and Writings (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1964), 143.

“But it was not absurd, for the race for the nomination was wide open. Seward seemed to be the front runner, but many thought him as unelectable as Chase. Other names being tossed about – John McLean, Nathaniel P. Banks, Edward Bates, Lyman Trumbull, Jacob Collamer, Benjamin F. Wade, Henry Wilson – were all long shots at best. As Schuyler Colfax noted in December 1858, ‘there is no serious talk of any one.’ Despite his modesty, Lincoln between August 1859 and March 1860 positioned himself for a presidential run by giving speeches and corresponding with party leaders in several states, among them Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Kansas. At the same time, he labored to keep Republicans true to their principles by having them steer a middle course between the Scylla of Douglas’s popular sovereignty and the Charybdis of radical abolitionism. Only thus could he and his party capture the White House. And only thus could a lesser-known Moderate like himself lead the ticket.”

–Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (2 volumes, originally published by Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008) Unedited Manuscript by Chapter, Lincoln Studies Center, Volume 1, Chapter 14 (PDF), 1524-1525.


This page is under construction and will be developed further by students in the new “Understanding Lincoln” online course sponsored by the House Divided Project at Dickinson College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. To find out more about the course and to see some of our videotaped class sessions, including virtual field trips to Ford’s Theatre and Gettysburg, please visit our Livestream page at http://new.livestream.com/gilderlehrman/lincoln


Searchable Text

Chicago, March 24 1860
Hon. Samuel Galloway
My dear Sir: 
I am here attending a trial in court. Before leaving home I received your kind letter of the 15th. Of course I am gratified to know I have friends in Ohio who are disposed to give me the highest evidence of their friendship and confidence. Mr Parrott  of the Legislature, had written me to the same effect. If I have any chance, it consists mainly in the fact that the whole opposition would vote for me if nominated. (I dont mean to include the pro-slavery opposition of the South, of course.) My name is new in the field; and I suppose I am not the first choice of a very great many. Our policy, then, is to give no offence to others—leave them in a mood to come to us, if they shall be compelled to give up their first love. This, too, is dealing justly with all, and leaving us in a mood to support heartily whoever shall be nominated. I believe I have once before told you that I especially wish to do no ungenerous thing towards Governor Chase, because he gave us his sympathy in 1858, when scarcely any other distinguished man did. Whatever you may do for me, consistently with these suggestions, will be appreciated, and gratefully remembered.
Please write me again. 
Yours very truly
Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Honest Abe
About Site

Editor: Matthew Pinsker
House Divided Project
PO Box 1773 / 61 N. West Street
Dickinson College
Carlisle, PA 17013

Board of Advisors
David W. Blight
Catherine Clinton
Eric Foner
Harold Holzer
James Oakes
Anne Sarah Rubin

Contributing Editors
Additional Credits
Permissions and Citations
How to Use

Log in

“Best of the Web”
Named "Best of the Web" in Nov. 2013 by NEH EDSITEMENT
House Divided Project
Navigate our highlights here