Primary tabs


529. Henry C. Whitney to Jesse W. Weik.

Chicago September 17th 1887

My Dear Sir

I recd your note of inquiry of Septr 15 also a note from Herndon dated at Springfield to which I replied. 1st. as to your inquiry about a publisher. I should not consider it amiss for you to come here with your MSS. when you get it ready and consult with the several publishers who are here. There are several subscription book publishers and a few trade book publishers. Of the former I may mention "L. W. Yaggy" as the most prominent and of the latter "S. C. Griggs" — and "Jas. Cockroft" as the most prominent.

I talked with Yaggy Whom I Know very well about your Book. It is probably too small to be published as a subscription book: such books have to have a large profit in order to pay the various parties — canvassers &c. their share. A book has to pay at least $3.00 to answer at all as a subscription book. Then you must have a trade book publisher such as Harper Bros or Appleton. The reason you need such a publisher is to be advertised: they not only advertise the book but they likewise send out instalments of it to the trade: and in no other way can you succeed. Yaggy told me you would have to go to the East & leave your mss. with the proposed publisher & they must inspect it and determine if or not they desired to publish it: and you would probably receive 10 per cent of gross receipts if they should publish it. I think it will be well for you to come here and get all the ideas you can about publishing and you can then determine if or not you want to go East. It will be well for you to have your MSS. in good shape as considerable may depend on that. I intend to have my book type written in good clear style: but if yours is written in clear hand writing it will doubtless answer the purpose.

Am quite sorry & much surprised that my letter to Mr Herndon containing the picture of Lincoln should have been lost inasmuch as directions were on the back of the letter to have it returned to me after a certain number of days: still it is lost and I can get another after Octr 1st when Hesler will have got into his new


gallery. I think I will be here all through this & next month & Swett likewise. of course I will aid you in any way with your book: and properly published it ought to have a run: but the number of trashy Lives of Lincoln is somewhat prodigious. on reflection it seems to me that you had better consult the publishers here first: then: you can determine if or not you should go East for one. I think you had better meet Herndon here when you come to see a publisher.

As to anecdotes &c. — probably the only way I could do that effectively would be to have a stenographer take down whatever was needed: and then a type writer reproduce it: but it would be better for Herndon to be present in order to determine what he wants to preserve & what reject: as it would not [be w]ell to write a lot of stuff in vain. of course I Know a great deal about Lincoln & remember much of it — and I suppose even such gossip as I could narrate would be quite acceptable to the public. I notice that often men with quite as good a capacity as I had to acquire information cannot narrate it either from treacherous memories inattention or some other cause. I remember a great deal about Lincoln and shall never forget it: and I have an idea (altho' others have the same) that Lincoln confided his opinions about men to me more fully than he did to most of his friends: and I Know that he had more faith in Herndon as a friend & adviser than in any other man in Illinois if not in the world. other men that he beleived in strongly were T. Lyle Dickey — Archie Williams — O. H. Browning Leonard Swett Ward H. Lamon.

of course when Dickey abandoned our political faith in 1858, Lincoln no longer had any faith in him. But Lincoln felt very much grieved when I informed him that Dickey was about to leave us. I Knew it beforehand from one occupying the same office together. (I don't want anything said about my opinion of Lincolns feelings for Davis) Lincoln despised Douglas. All that I ever heard him say about John A. Logan was to tell an anecdote thus: — "When John was in the Legislature a Committee was raised to meet some one or body to discuss the subject of Dram Shop license: some member proposed to pass a Resolution to the effect that the Committee had no right to adopt or propose any ultra temperance policy &c: but John squelched it by saying Oh! that is needless: the noses of the Committee are an emphatic declaration of their anti temperance principles."

The first story I ever heard Lincoln tell was in Court. Court stopped to hear — "its like the lazy preacher who used to read very long sermons: When asked how so lazy a man used to write such long sermons, one of his deacons said; "Oh! he gets to writing & is too lazy to stop."

Lincoln & I were once puzzled in a case to Know how the Court would hold: so Lincoln solved it thus: in the Judge's room that evening Lincoln said to the crowd: "Fellers hows so & so? — Davis promptly answered as Lincoln had hoped: and we then found out how the man who was going to decide the point would decide it. When Lincoln returned from Cincinnati after appearing before Judge McLean in a Patent Case he said to me "Judge McLean is a man of considerable


vigor of mind but no perception at all: if you was to point your finger at him and also a darning needle he would not Know which was the sharpest.

Lincoln was very adroit in managing a case: I once had the case of "Peggs. vs. Scott" to try in Champaign County and was all alone in it. Lincoln & O. L. Davis were on the other side. O.L. was a dirty fellow & he informed me that they were going to bea[t] me awfully and I got alarmed & went to Lincoln about it, he reassured me — said it was like any other lawsuit — they might be beat or I might but not to worry &c. But when the trial came Lincoln bore down on me harder than any one. The great majority of Lincolns stories were very nasty indeed. I remember many of them but they do us no good. Now as to my matter. I want to lecture about Lincoln and I think of limiting myself to Ohio for this Ensuing winter for the following reasons, viz: 1st It is said by lecture men to be the best lecture state in the Union. 2d I was a Paymaster there for 2 years & paid many Ohio troops & my reputation for that reason whould be of some value. 3d I have got to organize my own campaign and need a circumscribed area to do it effectually in. I might slop over into Indiana some. I should get good literature & advertise intensively & use the Grand Army of the Republic for all it might be worth.

I don't commence in Illinois for the reason that I would fear that Herndon or Matheny or Moore or someone else would be present & would know more of Lincoln than I did. I want to help Herndon all I can and will be glad to do it in any way

Your Freind
H C Whitney

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 4615 — 16



1. At this point Whitney wrote, then struck out but I think not David Davis.

2. Not identified.