John Bell to Abraham Lincoln, 17 September 1848.1
Dr[Dear] Sir
I have recd[received] your letter from Washington I was glad to learn that all the late amounts received by the Whig central Com.[Committee] were favorable.2 What do you say of the late Clay nomination in New York? We think it a small matter here—but want to see how it affects the sentiments of the whigs in the interior of that state?3
As to Ten. you may set it down as certainly whig– The estimate of our friends make of the majority varies from 5000 to 12000. The Democrats, until the late news from the city of N. Y. were quite down. They only breathe a little freer now, hoping something from division in New York.4
In the South we expect to carry all the states except Alabama, Mississippi & Arkansas—of course we do not count on Missouri.5
Please write me what you think Illinois will do—now that you have the means of forming an opinion. What does Iowa promise? What say you of Wisconsin & Michigan? What of Indiana?6
Very Truly
Your friend
Jno. BellHon. A. Lincoln

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NASHVILLE T[n][Tennessee].
SEP[September ] 19
J Bell
Hon. A. LincolnSpringfieldIllinois
1John Bell wrote and signed this letter.
2Lincoln’s letter to Bell has not been located.
3Bell was referencing a movement among conservative Whigs in New York City to launch an independent candidacy for Henry Clay for president in opposition to Zachary Taylor, who won the Whig nomination at the national convention in June 1848. In the lead up to the presidential election of 1848, Taylor initially insisted on an independent candidacy separate from party, but his advisors convinced him that a public declaration of Whig principles was necessary for him to secure that party’s nomination. Taylor issued this declaration on April 22 in a letter addressed to John S. Allison, a Kentucky tobacco factor who was visiting him at the time. The Allison Letter included Taylor’s declaration, “I am a Whig, but not an Ultra Whig,” reiterating his intention to act above party. The letter had the desired effect of convincing doubters that Taylor was a Whig. Anti-slavery and some regular Whigs, however, condemned the nomination of Taylor, a southern slaveholder who had no previous political affiliation, as an abandonment of Whig principles. As an act of protest, Clay and many others refused to endorse Taylor and participate in the campaign. Accusations that Taylor was not a Whig plagued his campaign, and Abraham Lincoln and other Taylorite Whigs, led by John J. Crittenden, spent the summer working to convince party faithful and neutrals of the general’s Whig bona fides. Taylor undermined these efforts, however, in letters to George Lippard and South Carolina Whigs reasserting his independence from party. To make matters worse, in another letter to South Carolina Whigs published in the Charleston News, he affirmed he would have just as readily accepted the nomination from the Democrats had the party made him its nominee. Outraged by the South Carolina letters, conservative Whigs, at a mass meeting in New York City on September 7, pledged support for a new ticket of Clay and Millard Fillmore. The New York City insurgency fizzled; Clay refused to lead a rebellion against his own party, and declined the nomination. The abortive insurgency did not have an adverse impact on Taylor’s cause in New York; he won the state and its vital thirty-six electoral votes with 47.9 percent of the popular vote, to 25.1 percent for Democratic candidate Lewis Cass and 26.4 percent for Martin Van Buren, candidate of the nascent Free Soil Party.
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), 309-10, 347-48, 351-53; K. Jack Bauer, Zachary Taylor: Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985), 243-44; 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, 733.
4Taylor won Tennessee and its thirteen electoral votes, receiving 52.5 percent of the popular vote to 47.5 percent for Cass.
John L. Moore, Jon P. Preimesberger, and David R. Tarr, eds., Congressional Quarterly’s Guide to U.S. Elections, 1:650, 733.
5Bell’s forecast proved mostly accurate; Taylor won all the states south of the Mason-Dixon Line except the four states he named and South Carolina, Virginia, and Texas.
John L. Moore, Jon P. Preimesberger, and David R. Tarr, eds., Congressional Quarterly’s Guide to U.S. Elections, 1:733.
6Lincoln’s response to Bell, if he penned one, has not been located. All the states Bell mentioned, the entire old Northwest including Ohio, went for Cass.
John L. Moore, Jon P. Preimesberger, and David R. Tarr, eds., Congressional Quarterly’s Guide to U.S. Elections, 1:733.

Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Volume Volume 2, Herndon-Weik Collection of Lincolniana, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).