Fleming R. Payne to Abraham Lincoln, 7 December 18541Marshall Ills
Dec 7th/54Hon A Lincon
The clay county vote for Allen Mr Constable says is 533 insted of 593 fat least he has just returned from clay and reports that all parties in that county admited that to be the vote we so understood it & had our information from reliable men, but we ^were^ disaponted & astonished when the official vote come from Springfield 593 There must be a mistake about it. But let that be as it may you can inform our friends that Archer will get a seat in the next congress If there is no mistake in the official vote the election will be contested any how.2 Allen must stand backYours TrulyF R Payne
<Page 2>this time. We hope you will be elected to the senate of U. S. Mr McClure our representative is a good whig & reliable man. He is anti-Nebraska & rather disposed to favor the K-Nothings.3 Any information you can give us in relation to our election will be thankfully recd[received]
2The final tally of votes from Clay County in the race for U.S. Representative in Illinois’ Seventh Congressional District did indeed give 593 votes to incumbent Democrat James C. Allen. Whig challenger William B. Archer received 347 votes in the county. The race was decided in Allen’s favor by a single vote and Archer contested the election. Allen was forced to vacate the seat and a special election was held for the seat in 1856, which Allen won.
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.
3Passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and its effective repeal of the Missouri Compromise had reawakened Abraham 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.
The Illinois General Assembly met in a joint session on February 8, 1855, to make their selection for the state’s U.S. Senator. Thomas R. McClure 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.
David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1995), 167-73; Autobiography of Abraham Lincoln Written for John L. Scripps; William H. Randolph to Abraham Lincoln; Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 10 November 1854, 2:5; Illinois Senate Journal. 1855. 19th G. A., 1st sess., 242-55; 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; Abraham Lincoln to Elihu B. Washburne.
Autograph Letter Signed, 3 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).