The idea of making Lincoln a Presidential candidate had occurred to the minds of many during his growing fame. The principle of natural selection plays no unimportant part in the politics of the United States. There are always hundreds of newspapers ready to “nail to the mast-head” the name of any individual which begins to appear frequently in dispatches and editorials. A few months after the close of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and long before the Ohio speeches and the Cooper Institute address, a warm personal friend, the editor of an Illinois newspaper, wrote him an invitation to lecture, and added in his letter: “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 and myself are about addressing the Republican editors of the State on the subject of a simultaneous announcement of your name for the Presidency.”
[Sidenote] Lincoln to Pickett, April 16, 1859. MS.
To this Lincoln replied: “As to the other matter you kindly mention, I must in candor say I do not think myself fit for the Presidency. I certainly am flattered and gratified that some partial friends think of me in that connection; but I really think it best for our cause that no concerted effort, such as you suggest, should be made.”
[Illustration: GENERAL JOHN C. BRECKINRIDGE.]
[Sidenote] Lincoln to Judd, Dec. 9, 1859. MS.
A much more hopeful ambition filled his mind. Notwithstanding his recent defeat, he did not think that his personal contest with Douglas was yet finished. He had the faith and the patience to wait six years for a chance to repeat his political tournament with the “Little Giant.” From his letter quoted in a previous chapter we know he had resolved to “fight in the ranks” in 1860. From another, we know how generously he kept faith with other Republican aspirants. “If Trumbull and I were candidates for the same office you would have a right to prefer him, and I should not blame you for it; but all my acquaintance with you induces me to believe you would not pretend to be for me while really for him. But I do not understand Trumbull and myself to be rivals. You know I am pledged not to enter a struggle with him for the seat in the Senate now occupied by him; and yet I would rather have a full term in the Senate than in the Presidency.”
[Sidenote] Lincoln to Frazer, Nov. 1, 1859. MS.
This spirit of fairness in politics is also shown by the following letter, written apparently in response to a suggestion that Cameron and Lincoln might form a popular Presidential tickets “Yours of the 24th ult. was forwarded to me from Chicago. It certainly is important to secure Pennsylvania for the Republicans in the next Presidential contest; and not unimportant to also secure Illinois. As to the ticket you name, I shall be heartily for it after it shall have been fairly nominated by a Republican