When a campaign opponent tried to ruin Abraham Lincoln by spreading rumors, Mr. Lincoln responded with the following personal correspondence.
New Salem, June 21, 1836
I am told that during my absence last week, you passed through this place, and stated publicly, that you were in possession of a fact or facts, which, if known to the public, would entirely destroy the prospects of N.W. Edwards and myself at the ensuing election; but that, through favour to us, you should forbear to divulge them.
No one has needed favours more than I, and generally, few have been less unwilling to accept them; but in this case, favour to me, would be injustice to the public, and therefore I must beg your pardon for declining it. That I once had the confidence of the people of Sangamon, is sufficiently evident, and if I have since done anything, either by design or misadventure, which if known, would subject me to a forfeiture of that confidence, he that knows of that thing, and conceals it, is a traitor to his country's interest.
I find myself wholly unable to form any conjecture of what fact or facts, real or supposed, you spoke; but my opinion of your veracity, will not permit me, for a moment, to doubt, that you at least believed what you said.
I am flattered with the personal regard you manifested for me, but I do hope that, on more mature reflection, you will view the public interest as a paramount consideration, and therefore, determine to let the worst come.
I here assure you, that the candid statement of facts, on your part, however low it may sink me, shall never break the tie of personal friendship between us.
I wish an answer to this, and you are at liberty to publish both if you choose. Very Respectfully,
This document is a copy of the unedited text of a written work by Abraham Lincoln. Some typographical errors which were present in the original text appear here as well. This document was copied in it's entirety from The Living Lincoln, edited by Paul M. Angle and Earl Schenck Miers, published by Marboro Books Corp.