One of the most valued possessions of the Gillespie family of Edwardsville, Ill., is a package of old letters, the paper stained by time and the ink faded, but each missive rendered invaluable, to them at least, by the well-known signature of Abraham Lincoln which adorns it. These letters so carefully preserved, are nearly all of a political nature, and are addressed to Hon. Joseph Gillespie, before the war one of the leading politicians of Illinois, a famous stump speaker, several times member of the legislature, and for many years one of Lincoln’s most intimate political friends. The correspondence covers a period of about ten years, from 1849 to 1858, and the most interesting feature of this period, so far as Lincoln was concerned, was his unsuccessful effort to be elected to the United States senate. Probably the first intimation of his ambition in this direction was conveyed to Mr. Gillespie in the following letter, the original of which is now in the possession of the Missouri Historical Association, having been presented to that society by Mr. Gillespie in 1876. A copy, however, forms part of the family collection. It reads:
"Springfield, Ill., December 1, 1854.—(J. Gillespie, Esq.)—
Dear Sir: I have really got it into my head to be United States senator, and if I could have your support my chances would be reasonably good. But I know and acknowledge that you have as just claims to the place as I have; and, therefore, I cannot ask you to yield to me if you are thinking of becoming a candidate yourself. If, however, you are not, then I would like to be remembered by you; and also to have you make a mark for me with the anti-Nebraska members down your way. If you know, and have no objection to tell, let me know whether Trumbull intends to make a push. If he does I suppose the two men in St. Clair, and one or both in Madison, will be for him.
"We have the legislature clearly enough on joint ballot, but the senate is very close, and Cullom told me to-day that the Nebraska men will stave off the election if they can. Even if we get into joint vote we shall have difficulty to unite our forces. Please write me and let this be confidential. Your friend as ever.