Abraham Lincoln to Thomas S. Flournoy, 17 February 18481
Hon: T. S. Florney,Dear Sir:
In answer to your enquiries, I have to say I am in favor of Gen: Taylor as the whig candidate for the Presidency because I am satisfied we can elect him, that he would give us a whig administration, and that we can not elect any other whig–2
In Illinois, his being our candidate, would certainly give us one additional member of Congress, if not more; and probably would give us the electoral vote of the state– That with him, we can, in that state, make great inroads among the rank and file of the democrats to my mind is certain; but the majority against us there, is so great, that I can no more than express my belief that we can carry the state3
Very respectfullyA. Lincoln
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter. He misspelled Flournoy’s name in the address line.
2Lincoln references the movement to draft Zachary Taylor as the Whig Party’s candidate in the presidential election of 1848.
Lincoln had been actively working to advance Taylor’s candidacy as a member of the so-called “Young Indians,” a Whig Executive Committee founded by Truman Smith in the spring of 1847 to provide the Whig Party with a unified national organization for the imminent presidential campaign. Including principally but not exclusively Southern Whigs, the Young Indians made it their goal to nominate Zachary Taylor as the Whig Party standard bearer in 1848. Some Whigs condemned the movement for Taylor, a southern slaveholder who had no previous political affiliation, as an abandonment of Whig principles. Taylor’s insistence on an independent candidacy, separate from party affiliation, further eroded his following among the party faithful, including Henry Clay, the party’s standard bearer in the 1844 election and was still the nominal head of the party.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:275-76; Holman Hamilton, Zachary Taylor: Soldier in the White House (Hamden, CT: Archon, 1966), 63-64; Michael F. Holt, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 309-30, 333-39; K. Jack Bauer, Zachary Taylor: Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985), 233-34.
3On June 9, 1848, the Whig National Convention nominated Taylor as its candidate for president. Lincoln’s prognostications about the impact of Taylor’s candidacy, however, for Whig fortunes in Illinois and Virginia proved erroneous. After the congressional elections in August, the party affiliations of the Illinois congressional delegation remained constant from that in 1846: six Democrats, and one Whig. Edward D. Baker, representing the Sixth Congressional District, became the lone Whig in the Illinois contingent. Lincoln’s own seat in the Seventh Congressional District, normally a safe seat for the Whigs, went to Democrat Thomas L. Harris. In the presidential contest, Illinois, like the rest of the Old Northwest, went Democrat, giving Lewis Cass, the Democratic candidate, 44.9% of the vote to 42.4% for Taylor and 12.6 % for Martin Van Buren, candidate of the Free Soil Party. Virginia also went for Cass, giving him an outright majority with 50.8% of the vote to 49.2% for Taylor. The Whigs made slight inroads into the Democratic majority; in 1844, James K. Polk received 50,679 (53%) votes to 44,860 (47%) for Clay, while in 1848, Cass received 46,739 to 45,265 for Taylor. The Whigs in Virginia actually lost three seats in Congress, and Flournoy himself was unsuccessful in his bid for another term.
Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 8, 121-23, 126; John L. Moore, Jon P. Preimesberger, and David R. Tarr, eds., Congressional Quarterly’s Guide to U.S. Elections, 4th ed. (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2001), 1:649, 650; Kenneth C. Martis, The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress, 1789-1989 (New York: MacMillan, 1989), 100, 102.

Autograph Letter Signed, 1 page(s), Rosenbach Museum and Library (Philadelphia, PA).