Abraham Lincoln to Benjamin F. James, 17 November 18451Springfield, Nov: 17– 1845Friend James:
The paper at Pekin, has nominated Hardin for Governor; and, commenting on this, the Alton paper, indirectly nominates him for Congress–2 It would give Hardin a great start, and perhaps use me up, if the whig papers of the District should nominate him for Congress– If your feelings towards me are the same as when I saw you (which I have no reason to doubt) I wish you would let nothing appear in your paper which may opperate against me– You understand–
Matters stand just as they did when I saw you– Baker is certainly off of the track, and I fear Hardin intends to be on it–3
1Abraham Lincoln wrote the letter.
2The Pekin paper Lincoln references has not been identified.
Lincoln was mistaken on this point. Benjamin F. James’ own newspaper, the Tazewell Whig, proclaimed John J. Hardin for governor in at least three November issues. On November 15, the Alton Telegraph and Democratic Review noted that the Tremont paper had put forth Hardin’s name for governor. It implied first-hand knowledge that Hardin would not run for governor, and posited that while no Whig could win statewide office, the congressional race would be an opportunity with a greater chance of success. Lincoln realized his error before writing back to James.
The Tazewell Whig (Tremont, IL), 1 November 1845, 2:1; 8 November 1845, 2:1; 15 November 1845, 2:1; Abraham Lincoln to Benjamin F. James; Alton Telegraph and Democratic Review (IL), 15 November 1845, 2:3.
3At a Whig convention in Pekin in May 1843, an agreement was made between Lincoln, Edward D. Baker, and Hardin that seemed to establish a one-term limit on the prospective Whig congressmen. Hardin and Baker having already served, Lincoln believed that the 1846 nomination should have been his. In September 1845, Lincoln inquired of Hardin’s plans, but Hardin would not answer definitively one way or the other.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 2:218, 231; Abraham Lincoln to Henry E. Dummer.
Copy of Autograph Letter [Signed], 1 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Association Files, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL)