Abraham Lincoln to Hezekiah G. Wells, 4 August 18561Springfield, Ills. Aug. 4. 1856Hon: H. G. Wells:Dr[Dear] Sir
Yours of July 24th inviting me to be present at a Fremont mass meeting, to be held on the 27th of August, at Kalamazoo, has been forwarded to me by MrMeckem,2 of Kankakee– It would afford me great pleasure to be with you, and I will do so if possible; but I can not promise positively–
We are having trouble here that needs the attention of all of us– I mean the Fillmore movement– With the Fremont and Fillmore men united, here in Illinois, we have Mr Buchanan in the hollow of our hand; but with us divided, as we now are, he has us– This is the short and simple truth, as I believe–3Very RespectfullyA. Lincoln–
2“Mack” in Lincoln’s hand changed to “Mechem” by an unknown hand. In The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, editor Roy P. Basler ventured that the text in Lincoln’s hand may have been “Machin,” leading him to be unable to identify Alonzo W. Mack as the individual in question.
Hezekiah G. Wells’ July 24, 1856 letter to Lincoln has not been located.
Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 2:358-59.
3Lincoln is discussing the presidential election campaign of 1856 and efforts on the part of he and other members of the Republican Party to convince Illinois members of the American Party to unite with Republicans against Democratic candidate James Buchanan.
Lincoln wrote Wells again on August 21, confirming that he would speak in Kalamazoo. Although he had declined other requests to speak outside Illinois during the 1856 campaign, Lincoln delivered an address in Kalamazoo on August 27. He was the only person from outside Michigan to speak at the event.
Ultimately, the Republican Party in Illinois failed to win the support of American Party voters, and Buchanan won the presidency. In Illinois, Buchanan won 44.1 percent of the vote to Republican Party candidate John C. Fremont’s 40.2 percent and American Party candidate Millard Fillmore’s 15.7 percent. See the 1856 Federal Election.
Abraham Lincoln to James W. Grimes; Abraham Lincoln to Joel B. McFarland; Tom M. George, “‘Mechem’ or ‘Mack’: How a One-Word Correction in the Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln Reveals the Truth about an 1856 Political Event,” Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association 33 (Summer 2012), 21; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:433; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 10.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Kalamazoo Valley Museum (Kalamazoo, MI).