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236. Joshua F. Speed to William H. Herndon.

Louisville 17 Septr 1866

Dear Sir

Yours of the 15th making enquiry about my recollection of Lincolns speech made in the Presbyterian Church in the winter of 1839 is at hand I cheerfully comply with your request and all the more readily since I can correct an erroneous impression which seems to rest upon your mind


I had nothing whatever to do with the composition or arrangment of the speech — The thought, style Composition and arrangment were all his own. so far as I know — Certainly so far as I was concerned —

My recollection of the circumstances under which the speech was made was about this — An arrangement was made between the Whig & Democratic parties for a discussion of the principles then at issue before the country —

Logan Baker & Lincoln were the Champions of the whig party & Douglas Calhoun & Lamborn the chosen champions of the Democratic party — I remember the debate — The whigs were so much pleased with Lincolns speech that it was published by private subscription in pamphlet form & circulated as a campaign document —

I remember also that you were living with me then and that you one evening expressed the opinion that I had had some hand in composing the speech — It certainly was not true — I remember also that Blankenship who was rooming in the house about that time was also under that impression — I may have read it in manuscript before it went to press. But do not now remember that I did — even so much as that — as to my having originated an idea or written a line in it I never did —

I sold out to Hurst 1 Jany 1841. and came to Ky in the spring —

Lincoln came to see me & staid sometime at my mothers in the Summer & fall of 1841. I returned with him to Ills and remained till the 1st of Jany 1842.

When he was in Ky he was at times very melancholy — My Mother observed it — and one morning when he was alone — she with a womans instinct being much pained at his deep depression — which she had obsirved — presented him a bible — advising him to read it — to adopt its precepts and pray for its promises —

It made a deep impression upon him — I often heard him allude to it — even after he was President — As an evidence of the impression made upon him — Soon after his election he sent her a photographic likeness of himself — with this inscription in his own handwriting

"To my very good friend Mrs Lucy G. Speed from whose pious hands I riceived an Oxford Bible Twenty years ago

A. Lincoln

How touching! to Christian a woman! How beautiful & how simple — The old lady now 80 years old prizes above all price

Your friend
J. F. Speed

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2646 — 47; Huntington Library: LN2408, 2:329 — 32



1. This is AL's speech on the subtreasury. See CW 1:159 — 79.

2. Speech of Mr. Lincoln, at a Political Discussion, in the Hall of the House of Representatives, December, 1839. At Springfield, Illinois ([Springfield, 1840]).