Abraham Lincoln to Benjamin F. James, 27 January 18461Springfield, Jany 27, 1846Dear James:2
Yours enclosing the article from the Whig is received–3 In my judgment you have hit the matter exactly right– I believe it is too late to get the article in the Journal of this week; but Dickinson will understand it just as well from your paper, knowing, as he does, your position towards me–4 More than all, I wrote him at the same time I did you–5 As to suggestions for the committee, I would say appoint the convention for the first monday of May—as to the place, I can hardly make a suggestion, so many points desiring it– I was at Petersburg saturday and sunday; and they are very anxious for it there– A friend has also written me, desiring it at Beardstown–
I would have the committee leave the mode of choosing delegates to the whigs of the different counties, as may best suit them respectively– I would have them propose, for the sake of uniformity that the delegates should all be instructed as to their man, and the delegation of each county should go as a unit– If, without this, some counties should send united delegations & others divided ones, it might make bad work–
Also have it proposed, that when the convention shall meet, ^if^ there shall be any absent delegates, the members present may fill the vacancies, with persons to act under the same instructions, which may be known to have been given given to such absentees– You understand– Other particulars I leave to you– I am sorry to say I am afraid I can not go to Mason, so as to attend to your
<Page 2>business; but if I shall determine to go there, I will write you–
Do you hear any thing from Woodford & Marshall? Davenport, ten days ago, passed through here, and told me Woodford is safe; but, though in hope, I am not entirely easy about Marshall– I have so few personal acquaintances in that county, that I can not get at right– Dickinson is doing all that any one man can do; but it seems like it is an over-task for one–
I suppose Dr Henry will be with you on saturday– I got a letter from him to-day on the same subject as yours; and shall write him before saturday–6Yours truly.A. Lincoln
<Page 3>SPRINGFIELD Ill.[Illinois]
5B. F. James Esqr[Esquire]TremontIllinois
Jany 27 1846
Jany 27 1846
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. 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.
For other correspondence between Lincoln and Benjamin F. James regarding the 1846 Congressional nomination, see: Abraham Lincoln to Benjamin F. James, Abraham Lincoln to Benjamin F. James, Abraham Lincoln to Benjamin F. James, Abraham Lincoln to Benjamin F. James.
3James’ letter to Lincoln has not been located. On January 24, 1846, James’ paper, the Tazewell Whig, published, at Lincoln’s request, 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 a 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.”
Abraham Lincoln to Benjamin F. James; The Tazewell Whig (Tremont, IL), 24 January 1846, 2:1.
4The Sangamo Journal for January 29, 1846, is not extant. On February 5, the paper published a notice requesting the Sangamon County Whigs to meet in their precincts on February 21 to choose five delegates from each precinct for the county convention, which was scheduled to meet in March. The notice was followed by an editorial paragraph supporting the convention system of nomination.
Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 5 February 1846, 2:1.
Copy of Autograph Letter Signed, 3 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Association Files, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).