The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 5 by Abraham Lincoln
Accusation of Having Been Paid for a Political speech, to C. F. McNeil.
SPRINGFIELD, April 6, 1860
C. F. MCNEIL, Esq.
DEAR SIR:--Reaching home yesterday, I found yours of the 23d March, inclosing a slip from The Middleport Press. It is not true that I ever charged anything for a political speech in my life; but this much is true: Last October I was requested by letter to deliver some sort of speech in Mr. Beecher's church, in Brooklyn--two hundred dollars being offered in the first letter. I wrote that I could do it in February, provided they would take a political speech if I could find time to get up no other. They agreed; and subsequently I informed them the speech would have to be a political one. When I reached New York, I for the first time learned that the place was changed to "Cooper Institute." I made the speech, and left for New Hampshire, where I have a son at school, neither asking for pay nor having any offered me. Three days after a check for two hundred dollars was sent to me at New Hampshire; and I took it, and did not know it was wrong. My understanding now is--though I knew nothing of it at the time--that they did charge for admittance to the Cooper Institute, and that they took in more than twice two hundred dollars.
I have made this explanation to you as a friend; but I wish no explanation made to our enemies. What they want is a squabble and a fuss, and that they can have if we explain; and they cannot have it if we don't.
When I returned through New York from New England, I was told by the gentlemen who sent me the Check that a drunken vagabond in the club, having learned something about the two hundred dollars, made the exhibition out of which The Herald manufactured the article quoted by The Press of your town.
My judgment is, and therefore my request is, that you give no denial and no explanation.
Thanking you for your kind interest in the matter, I remain, Yours truly,