Robert L. Dulaney to Abraham Lincoln, 22 December 18541Marshall Decr 22d 1854.Hon A. Lincon.Dear Sir.
I have just seen our Representative Mr McClure, and had some conversation with him in regard to the Election of an U.S. Senator this winter.2 Mr McC is a good Whig, and will I think most cordially support you for that office. I am sure the Whigs of this County would greatly prefer you for Senator, than any of the other named persons for that office– And it will be I think Mr McClure's pleasure to support as well for that reason as for his own inclinations– Mr Mc C. is reputed to be somewhat of a Know Nothing, and I presume he will act with that party–3Yours TrulyR. L. Dulaney
2Thomas R. McClure represented Clark County in the Nineteenth Illinois General Assembly.
John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 220.
3Passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and its effective repeal of the Missouri Compromise 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 unwillingly 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.
Regarding McClure’s political allegiances, Jesse K. Dubois wrote Lincoln on November 21 that McClure was “a good and reliable man nothing impur in his politicks,” and that, “Dulany or Step Archer or some of the boys will make him right.” Fleming R. Payne wrote on December 7, 1854, “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.”
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 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., 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, 2 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).