James L. D. Morrison to Abraham Lincoln, 25 June 18481Belleville June 25. 1848.My Dear Lincoln
After congratulating you upon the nomination of our great and glorious old chief whose presentation to the country makes all hearts glad except a few who desire office and have but little to expect at his hands,—I must account for my not attending the Convention–2 You know I was appointed a delegate from this District– I had just returned from the east, and learned my young and ardent whig friend Nelsen Edwards who was a substitute was anxious to go on to the convention & knowing that he was for General T, yielded to him, and so informed him by letter,—but by some strange mishap he did not receive my letter in time—both of us were willing to go, both anxious & each thought the other on the way, when a few days before the convention I met Judge Pope and for the first time ascertained that Edwards had not gone on—this will I hope satisfactorily account for our Districts not being represented–3 I am satisfied that in our state Genl[General] T is hundreds, I might say thousands of votes stronger than any other man who could have been presented by the Convention– His nomination has been received with unbounded applause, whilst that of Cass has fallen still-born upon the public–4 Here in the great democratic county of St Clair, there is no enthusiasm, no rejoicing, no demonstration in favour of the "Dough face"–5 You know we have near a thousand democratic majority—Yet a Cass ratification meeting could not be gotten up, all are dissatisfied, all discouraged, and if the same apathy prevails in other quarters our prarie State will gallantly wheel into the Taylor line6 Our friends here many of them been urging me to
<Page 2>consent to run for Governor—indeed I had to stop the merriment in the Galena District by writing to Baker & Drummond, peremptorily refusing to run—a defeat which I would have regarded as inevitable would have injured the cause of Genl T.—we have not time to organize and canvass the State before the August election, and I think had better not make a stand for Executive officers– I may be a candidate for the senate from St Clair & Monroe, a desperate undertaking I hear you remark, against 1400 democratic majority, and so it is; but if I could not get a 1000 democratic votes out of the 3500 in the District I would think it was living to no purpose, to have been so strong a friend of "The dear people"–7 If I get my bill through the House by the 25th July I will run,—if not I can not as I shall want to be in Washington next winter to attend to it– I have just recd[received] a letter from Breese in which he informs me it had passed the senate—and now it is in the hands of its friends in the house
I write by this mail to Smith, Richardson, Boulin &c[etc]– I hope you have not forgotten the strong grounds on which I place the relief—no lawyer can examine the case, and the claim to relief without wondering how there can be any question upon the subject—read the report of the senate committee and get our friends to examine the report and particularly the decision of our Supreme court– I wish you will appear before the committee and urge speedy action upon the bill– If it passes or there is a certain prospect of it—by by the 25th July Telegraph me on the subject, and I will try as my hand against the old ranger—of course I will pay ^for^ the Telegraphic dispatch—do attend to it—the report was made by Mr Downs 11th July to accompany bill 146. and states the case fairly—8my respects to Mudd & other friends9yrs[yours] &Jas L D Morrison
<Page 3>I have written to Boulin giving him a statement which I wish you would ask him to let you See
2James L. D. Morrison references the Whig National Convention, held in Philadelphia from June 7-9, which nominated Zachary Taylor as the Whig candidate for president in the 1848 presidential election.
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), 288, 320-26, 329.
3Morrison lived in St. Clair County, which was in the First Congressional District.
Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 125.
4Reference to Lewis Cass’s nomination for president by the Democratic National Convention in late May.
Michael F. Holt, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War, 319.
5A term coined by John Randolph during debates over the Missouri Compromise, a doughface referred to northern men with southern principles. In the 1840s and 1850s, it became synonymous with northern politicians, particularly Democrats, who voted with the South regardless of the issue.
Leonard L. Richards, The Slave Power: The Free North and Southern Domination, 1780-1860 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2000), 85-86, 106.
6Morrison’s hopes for a Taylor victory in St. Clair County and Illinois as a whole came to nought: both county and state went Democrat. In St. Clair County, Cass garnered 63.3 percent of the vote, Taylor 34.7 percent, and Free Soil Party candidate Martin Van Buren 2 percent. In Illinois as a whole, Cass garnered 44.9 percent of the vote to 42.4 percent for Taylor and 12.6 percent for Van Buren.
Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990, 122; 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), 1:650.
7Morrison proved extraordinarily prescient concerning the Whig Party’s chances in state elections for executive officers. In the contest for governor, Democratic candidate Augustus French won with 86.8 percent of the vote to 7.2 percent for his Whig challenger. In St. Clair and Monroe counties, French received 100 percent of the vote; his Whig and Free Soil Party opponents did not receive a single vote. Despite this, Morrison succeeded in defeating John Reynolds for a seat in the Illinois Senate representing St. Clair and Monroe counties.
Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990, 8, 124; Illinois Journal (Springfield), 22 June 1848, 1:7; 13 September 1848, 3:2.
8Morrison references efforts by him and other heirs of Robert Morrison requesting confirmation of their title to a particular tract of land granted to Robert Morrison during the territorial days. On January 20, 1848, Sidney Breese in the U.S. Senate presented a petition from James L. D. Morrison and two other heirs of Robert Morrison requesting relief from Congress. The Senate referred this petition to the Committee on Private Land Claims. On February 15, Solomon W. Downs, chairman of the Senate Committee on Private Land Claims, reported back the petition with a report, together with Senate Bill No. 147 providing the requested relief. The bill passed the Senate on June 16. The House of Representatives concurred on December 19. The act became law on December 21.
U.S. Senate Journal. 1848. 30th Cong., 1st sess., 123, 175, 393; James A. Houston, Proceedings and Debates of the United States Senate. First Session--Thirtieth Congress (Washington, DC: n.p., 1848), 287-88; S. 147, 30th Cong., (1848); U.S. House Journal. 1849. 30th Cong., 2nd sess., 119, 129, 143; For Downs’ report and the ruling of the Illinois Supreme Court, see: Reports of Committees Printed by Order of the Senate of the United States, During the First Session of the Thirtieth Congress, Begun and Held at the City of Washington, December 6, 1847 (Washington, DC: Wendell and Van Benthuysen, 1847), No. , 1-13.
Autograph Letter Signed, 3 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC),