Abraham Lincoln to Benjamin F. James, 16 January 18461Springfield, Jany 16. 1846–Dear James:
A plan is on foot to change the plan ^mode^ of selecting the candidate for this district–2 The movement is intended to injure me, and if effected, most likely would injure me to some extent– I have not time to give particulars now; but I want you to let nothing prevent your getting an article in your paper, of this week taking strong ground for the old system, under which Hardin was & Baker were nominated, without seeming to know or suspect, that any one desires to change it–3 I have written Dr Henry more at length;4 and he will probably call & consult with you, in getting up the article; but whether he does or not dont fail, on any account, to get it in this week–5
JAN[January] 21B. F. James Esqr[Esquire]TremontIllinois–
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed the letter. He also authored the address on the back page, which was folded to create an envelope for mailing.
2At a Whig convention in Pekin in May 1843, an agreement was made between Lincoln, Edward D. Baker, and John J. 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. While Hardin delayed officially announcing his candidacy, Lincoln set out to solidify his own support. In response, Hardin proposed that the convention system for the nomination be thrown out, in favor of a primary election. Lincoln responded to Hardin’s proposal on January 19.
Lincoln and Hardin were vying to represent the Seventh Congressional District, which included the counties of Cass, Logan, Marshall, Mason, Menard, Morgan, Putnam, Sangamon, Scott, Tazewell, and Woodford.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:218, 231, 233; Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 26 February 1846, 2:1-2; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 126; Abraham Lincoln to Henry E. Dummer.
3On January 24, 1846, Benjamin F. James’ paper, the Tazewell Whig, published an editorial regarding the Whig Central Committee, of which James was the chairman. The editorial advocated for the committee to choose a time and place for the convention, claiming that the convention system would “prove the best calculated to preserve harmony and subserve the interests of the Whig party in our district.”
The Tazewell Whig (Tremont, IL), 24 January 1846, 2:1.
Copy of Autograph Letter [Signed], 1 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Association Files, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL)