William H. Herndon, Lincoln’s law partner and the man who perhaps knew him best, once described Lincoln’s ambition as “an engine that knew no rest.” After the grueling series of debates with Stephen A. Douglas, many Illinois Republicans, such as Thomas Pickett, viewed Lincoln as a possible candidate for president of the United States. In his response to this letter from Pickett, Lincoln stated that he did not consider himself fit for the presidency. However, he was quite aware of the swelling tide of support his candidacy would bring and may only have been attempting to avoid making himself an early target for the opposition party.
Rock Island, April 13, 1859.
Dear Sir—At the request of several citizens of this place, I write to request that you will deliver your lecture on “Inventions” in this city at such time as may suit your convenience. We think a full house would greet you. Please write and let me know whether it will be within your power to come.
I would like to have a “talk” with you on political matters—as to the policy of announcing your name for the Presidency—while you are in our city. My partner (C. W. Waite) and myself are about addressing the Republican editors of the State on the subject of a simultaneous announcement of [your name for the Presidency.]
T. J. Pickett