Monday, March 3, 2014


When I wrote Lincoln’s Most Famous Case, I used three campaign biographies as references--the works of Barrett, Bartlett, and Howells. I also had access to the brief autobiography Lincoln wrote for the use of his campaign biographers. I thought I had covered all the bases on campaign biographies, but I just recently discovered that I missed at least seventeen more. Amazon is taking pre-orders for a book by Thomas Horrocks titled Lincoln’s Campaign Biographies, and it says that over twenty such biographies were written.  This sent me scurrying to Google Books and the Internet Archive to try to find some of those seventeen or more campaign biographies. I succeeded in finding one—a pamphlet put out by the Chicago Tribune under the byline of John Locke Scripps. Only 32 pages long, the Tribune printed bushels of these pamphlets to be passed out by campaigners. After Lincoln’s death the pamphlet was reprinted in an annotated format at least twice, once by his daughter Grace Locke Scripps Dyche, and the second printed by Edward J. Jacob.

First Page of the Chicago Tribune Campaign Biography
Thought to be Ghost-Written by Lincoln

What is notable about this pamphlet is the contention that Lincoln actually ghost-wrote the piece. If he did, it is interesting that he never mentioned his wrestling match with Jack Armstrong or his defense of Duff Armstrong. Both of these incidents appear insignificant enough to omit from a Lincoln biography, and many biographers do indeed omit the stories. In my book I make a case for the propositions that (1) the wrestling match was a turning point in Lincoln’s life, and (2) the story of Lincoln’s Almanac Trial became a political football during his 1860 campaign for president. I pre-ordered Horrocks’ book, and I am interested to see whether and how the other campaign biographies treated these two incidents.

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