Abraham Lincoln Comforts His Campaign Manager After Losing the Senate Race: "And This Too Shall Pass"

November 16, 1858

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Abraham Lincoln Comforts His Campaign Manager After Losing the Senate Race: "And This Too Shall Pass"
Autograph Letter Signed
1 page | SMC 527

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      Background

      Feeling bad about losing his 1858 senatorial race to Senator Stephen Douglas, Lincoln reputedly said, “like the boy that stumped his toe - ‘it hurt too bad to laugh, and he was too big to cry.’” But writing here, two weeks after the defeat, Lincoln applies a balm to wounded feelings - not his own, but that of his de facto campaign manager, Norman Judd: "You are feeling badly,” he says, “'And this too shall pass away'- Never fear."

      Judd had, at that point, much to distress him: his friend and candidate had lost, barely, and the state Republican party, which he headed, was badly in debt. It was in fact to retire that debt that Judd had written Lincoln the day before, asking him for a contribution. But Lincoln, too, was broke – and no good either, he writes, at fundraising.

      I am willing to pay according to my ability; but I am the poorest hand living to get others to pay. I have been on expenses so long without earning any thing that I am absolutely without money now for even household purposes. Still, if you can put in two hundred and fifty dollars for me towards discharging the debt of the Committee, I will allow it when you and I settle the private matter between us. This, with what I have already paid, and with an outstanding note of mine, will exceed my subscription of five hundred dollars. This too, is exclusive of my ordinary expenses during the campaign, all which being added to my loss of time and business, bears pretty heavily upon one no better off in world's goods than I; but as I had the post of honor, it is not for me to be over-nice.

      Two years later, Judd and Lincoln were back in business, with Judd making sure that the Republican national convention was held in Chicago. There Judd nominated Lincoln, seated the delegations to Lincoln’s advantage, and worked hard to secure Lincoln’s victory. The hard-fought race against Douglas had allowed Lincoln a hearing on the great questions of the day - and so paved the way to his ascension to the presidency two years later. “Never fear,” indeed.

      Of special interest here, too, is the phrase "And this too shall pass away," which comes from an Eastern folktale attributed to King Solomon. And Judd's disappointment would indeed soon pass away: within six weeks Lincoln would be proposed as a possible presidential candidate in 1860.

      Autograph Letter Signed (“A. Lincoln”), 1 page, quarto, Springfield, November 16, 1858. To Norman Buel Judd.
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      Springfield, Nov. 16. 1858

      Hon; N.B. Judd

      My dear Sir

      Yours of the 15th is just received- I wrote you the same day- As to the pecuniary matter, I am willing to pay according to my ability; but I am the poorest hand living to get others to pay-  I have been on expences [sic] so long without earning any thing that I am absolutely without money now for even household purposes- Still, if you can put in two hundred and fifty dollars for me toward discharging the debt of the Committee, I will allow it when you and I settle the private matter between us-  This, with what I have already paid, and with an outstanding note of mine, will exceed my subscription of five hundred dollars. This, too, is exclusive of [text is crossed out] my ordinary expences [sic] during the campaign, all which being added to my loss of time and business, bears pretty heavily upon one no better off in world's goods than I; but as I had the post of honor, it is not for me to be over-nice - 

      You are feeling badly - "And this too shall pass away" - Never fear.

      Yours as ever

      A. Lincoln