These documents are letters sent from Abraham Lincoln to Dr. Daniel A. Cheever, an abolitionist and political figure in Pekin, Illinois.
Dr. Daniel A. Cheever, born in 1827, was an abolitionist and a conductor on the Underground Railroad in Pekin, Illinois, and was politically involved throughout Tazewell County. He served as President of the first Union League of America, which was organized in Pekin in 1862. Union Leagues were secretive clubs established during the Civil War to promote the abolition of slavery and loyalty to the Union. Dr. Cheever died in Urbana, Illinois, in 1890.
The first letter, sent from Abraham Lincoln to Dr. Cheever on August 9, 1858, references a speaking engagement that Cheever asked Lincoln to attend. Lincoln denied the request due to another obligation but offered another speaker instead. He also wrote on the importance of Tazewell County, presumably regarding the upcoming election for United States Senator, in which Lincoln was the Republican candidate.
The second letter is in response to a letter sent by Dr. Cheever on August 9, 1859, asking Lincoln for help in finding someone to come to Pekin and edit a newspaper. Lincoln replied on August 19, stating that he could think of no one and made suggestions of others who might help. He then mentioned a German Republican newspaper that was recently started in Springfield - presumably the Illinois Staats-Anzeiger.
A transcription of the first letter can be found in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (edited by Roy P. Basler et al.) in the first supplement (also called Volume 10), on page 32. A transcription of the second letter can be found in the same volume on page 41.
These letters were donated to the University Library from the estate of Sarah Elizabeth Bryan in 1959. An American flag with 34 stars, dating from sometime between 1861 and 1863 and said to have been carried during Abraham Lincoln's funeral procession, was also donated.