40. Orlando B. Ficklin to William H. Herndon.
Charleston Jun 25th 65
My dear Sir
I am in receipt of two letters from you touching your preparing to write the life of our mutual friend Lincoln, but courts & business have kept me going ever since the first was received.
Dennis Hanks is now at Chicago exhibiting log Cabin &c &c, will be at home in two or three weeks. On him & on Col Gus Chapman his son in law & John Hanks you will have to rely to a large extent. I spoke to Chapman yesterday in your behalf & he & Dennis could visit & stop with you long enough to furnish all the facts & fictions traditional or otherwise in their possession The Step Mother is too old & infirm to give much reliable information & her offspring & their descendants are not remarkable for their truth honesty or chastity, & it would be better to rely upon the Hanks who are blood relatives of Lincoln
By very close & direct reply, you can gain from Dennis Hanks much needful information & if you will say to him that I refered you to him for a truthful narrative he will talk freely to you.
It will be 30 years next Decr since Lincoln and myself met at Vandalia as members of the Legislature, a friendship then commenced which remained unbroken by political differences or personal interests or otherwise, up to his death.
I knew him well as a Lawyer a Statesman & citizen, valued him highly & deeply deplored his death. He was a case Lawyer but in a case where he felt that he had the right none could surpass him.
As a Statesman, he was deeply imbued with the Principles of Henry Clay, but was conscientously opposed to slavery all his life, & he expressed his views honestly & truly to the Ky delegation when he urged them so strongly to accept compensated emancipation. He had a nice & keen perception of right & wrong & did not wish to see rich men made poor by having their negroes freed without compensation
If I could be with you I could give many incidents which might be of interest & it would give me infinite pleasure no less on your own account than on account of a deceased friend to do all in my power to present fully & fairly a perfect life.
Very truly yours
O B Ficklin
Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2209 — 10; Huntington Library: LN2408, 2:298