William B. Archer to Abraham Lincoln, 3 December 18541Marshall Dec. 3rd 1854,Hon. A. Lincon,Dr[Dear] Sir,
Yours of the 27th Nov.[November] came to hand and the matter between Mr Allen and myself not yet officially settled, All the returns in but that of Moultrie, Jasper coming in on the day you wrote.2 The first report from Jasper here was that I was ahead there 14 votes, changed to 67 in favor of Mr Allen, for some time, he Mr A. informed Mr. Bowman in Palestine coming up here on R. R.[Railroad] business that 67 was his majority— afterwards rose to 69 and so reported– A special friend of C. Constables in Clay, one or two days after the election, wrote to Mr. Constable giving the whole number of votes for Mr A. and for myself in all nearly 1000 votes deducted gave Mr A. 186.– Dubois wrote to a friend in Clay for correct information some time after the election who answered him the majority in Clay for Allen 186 confirming the statement to Mr Constable– That County has returned 246 against me– I am clearly of the opinion that injustice has been done me in those counties, and also west Vandalia &c[etc.]
I can cull out in this, Clark, some 12 or 15 votes illegal, perhaps more, You and my friends mayYours truly–W. B. Archer
<Page 2>rest assured that I will probe matters to the bottom and I must believe that it will not require a hard exertion to turn the sclale– He has not obtained his majority of one vote fairly and his case will be attended to– Perhaps Moultrie may give over 103. for me– Report here that my my majority is over that– She has kept back her report strangely— A few days will tell the tale–3 In relation to our Rep.[Representative] Tho. B. McClure– I have known him from a boy, he is a true whig— and Friend Lincon I say to you count him as one sure—4 we will arrange it for you– Hope you may succeed– I had you in view–
[ docketing ]
3Early reports suggested that Archer had likely defeated incumbent Democrat James C. Allen in the 1854 race for U.S. Representative in Illinois’ Seventh Congressional District by a majority of over a thousand votes. As county returns were slowly certified, Archer’s lead dropped throughout November 1854 in the manner he describes here, and the race was ultimately decided in Allen’s favor by one vote. In the final vote tabulations, Clay County voters cast 593 votes for Allen and 347 for Archer. In Jasper County, Allen received 452 votes to 383 for Archer, while in Moultrie County, voters cast 365 votes for Archer and 262 for Allen. Archer contested the election and Congress vacated the seat and a special election was held for the seat in 1856, which Allen won.
Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 14 November 1854, 2:2; 16 November 1854, 3:1; 20 November 1854, 3:1; 29 November 1854, 2:3; 9 December 1854, 2:4; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 10, 135; Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1996 (Alexandria, VA: CQ Staff Directories, 1997), 568-69.
4In November and December of 1854 Lincoln undertook a letter writing campaign soliciting his allies’ help in canvassing their Illinois General Assembly members for support of his potential candidacy for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
Passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and its effective repeal of the Missouri Compromise had reawakened Lincoln’s passion for politics, and he threw himself into the congressional election campaign in the fall of 1854, crisscrossing Illinois to deliver speeches against the Kansas-Nebraska Act and in support of anti-Nebraska candidates. He even allowed himself to become a candidate for the Illinois General Assembly (albeit reluctantly at first). As the election campaign reached its climax, Lincoln’s name began to circulate as a possible nominee for one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats. Lincoln won election to the Illinois House of Representatives in the 1854 election, but declined the seat in late November in order to run for U.S. Senate. See the 1854 Federal Election.
The General Assembly met in a joint session on February 8, 1855, to make their selection for the U.S. Senate. Newly-elected representative Thomas R. McClure from Clark County cast his vote for Lincoln in all of the first nine rounds of voting. After the ninth vote, with his share of votes declining, Lincoln dropped out of contention and urged his remaining supporters to vote for anti-Nebraska Democrat Lyman Trumbull to ensure that an anti-Nebraska candidate would be elected. McClure voted for Trumbull in the tenth round of voting, at which point Trumbull was declared the victor. See the 1854 Federal Election.
Abraham Lincoln to Hugh Lamaster; William H. Randolph to Abraham Lincoln; Robert Boal to Abraham Lincoln; John E. McClun to Abraham Lincoln; David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1995), 167-73; Autobiography of Abraham Lincoln Written for John L. Scripps; Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 10 November 1854, 2:5; Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 242-55; Abraham Lincoln to Elihu B. Washburne; Victor B. Howard, “The Illinois Republican Party: Part I: A Party Organizer for the Republicans in 1854,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 64 (Summer 1971), 153-54.
Autograph Letter Signed, 3 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).