Benjamin E. Hale to Abraham Lincoln, 2 August 18561Beloit Wis Aug 2 1856My Dear Sir
Enclosed you will find a call for a meeting proposed for the 3d of September. In behalf of our Committee I write you to be present upon that occasion and address the people. You will notice that the call embraces the northern Counties of Illinois. Our plan contemplates the assembling of twenty or thirty thousand people and we hope that you will respond to our call affirmatively.2 Our friends at Freeport are arranging for a similar meeting on the 5th where they will also desire you to speak.3
Please let me hear from you as early as possibleYours TrulyB. E. Hale
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SEVEN COUNTIES CALLED!
SEVEN COUNTIES CALLED!
The immense Convention of the Republicans of Rock County, recently in session at Janesville, adjourned to meet in the City of Beloit, on Wednesday the 3d day of September next. In response to this call the Beloit Fremont Club cordially invite the Republicans of Rock, Greene, Walworth, Racine and Kenosha Counties in Wisconsin, and Winnebago and Boone Counties in Illinois, as well as all others, opposed to the corruptions and infamies of the present administration, and in favor of the election of Fremont and Dayton, to the Chief Executive offices of the nation, to meet them in Mass Convention in the City of Beloit, on the 3d day of September at 10 o’clock A.M.4
The object of this meeting is to discuss the great and terrible issues forced upon us by the slave power, and to gird ourselves for a vigorous contest in defense of our liberties and the Constitution. By the action of the Slave Oligarchy, which has the sanction of the falsely called democratic party, the rights and immunities of freemen have been invaded and outraged in Kansas, and are severely threatened elsewhere. It becomes every man then, valuing his own freedom and cherishing a love for his country and its Constitution, now to rally in defence of both. Let us come together in counsel,— to mingle our sympathies with the oppressed and to stir ourselves for a conflict, on the results of which hang the destinies of our country and the rights of freemen.
The success of the Slaveocracy5 in this struggle installs tyranny in power for a time, and opens the way for usurpations and corruptions ‘before unheard of. Let every lover of his country then, now rouse himself to action.
Among the distinguished speakers invited to address the people, are the Hon. Abram Lincoln of Ill.[Illinois], Gen. Nye, of New York, Judge Collamer of Vermont, Hon. John P. Hale of New Hampshire, besides several earnest and eloquent men of our own State.6
Come one, come all, and let this be such a rally for freedom, as will convince the enemy, that the thunders of indignation which burst from the heart of an outraged and indignant people, must be heeded.By order of the Beloit Fremont Club.E. P. KING, PresidentM. A. Northrop, Secretary.Beloit, Aug. 1, 1856.
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Hale, Benjamin E.Beloit, WisconsinTodd, Samuel J.Beloit, WisconsinParker, Nathaniel D.Beloit, WisconsinNorthrup, Marshall A.Beloit, WisconsinBeloit, Wis.[Wisconsin], August 1, 1856.DEAR SIR—
Herewith you will find a call for a Republican Mass Convention, to be holden in this city, on the 3d of September.
In behalf of the Committee of Arrangements we cordially invite you to attend this meeting, and to make the necessary arrangements for a full and general attendance from your town. It is desirable that the people, both men and women, from all the surrounding country, should be here by thousands to participate in the duties and festivities of this occasion.7 Will you please consult with the friends of freedom in your place upon the subject of attending this meeting, and let us know about how many to expect, as soon as convenient. We desire to welcome the people en masse, with banners and badges, representing the principles we love and cherish, and with sympathies and hearts aroused to prompt and efficient action against the corrupt aggressions of the slave power. Let us hear from you at the earliest moment, and state not only the probable number of your delegation, but in what form and manner you will approach the City, that we may prepare the proper escort.By order of the Beloit Fremont Club.B. E. HALE,S. J. TODD,N. D. PARKER,M. A. NORTHROP,
Committee on Speakers and Invitations.
2A response from Abraham Lincoln to Hale, if one existed, has not been located.
The Chicago Daily Tribune reported the “immense republican demonstration” as having “thirteen counties represented” and “25,000 freeman of two states in council.” To emphasize the event’s success, the newspaper described, “the 3d of September 1856, at Beloit, above all other days that have ever been.”
Chicago Daily Tribune (IL), 5 September 1856, 2:4-5.
3Lincoln did not appear at the Beloit meeting or at an event in Freeport, if one occurred. On September 3, he was in Lincoln, Illinois, and he spoke at a political event the next day in Atlanta. Lincoln was in Jacksonville by September 6 for another political meeting.
Lincoln attended these political meetings and gave speeches on behalf of Republican Party candidates running for state or federal office. Between July and November 1856, Lincoln crisscrossed Illinois for the Republican cause, delivering over fifty speeches in support of Republican candidates and to rally the disparate elements of the emerging Republican Party. See the 1856 Federal Election.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 3 September 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1856-09-03; 4 September 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1856-09-04; 6 September 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1856-09-06; 1 November 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1856-11-01; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:425-33.
4In addition to the counties mentioned, six additional counties attended: Dane, Dodge and Milwaukee in Wisconsin and Cook, Kane, and Stephenson in Illinois.
Republicans established Fremont clubs, Rocky Mountain clubs, freedom clubs, and other organizations to support Fremont’s candidacy.
Chicago Daily Tribune (IL), 5 September 1856, 2:4; Scott John Hammond, Robert North Roberts, and Valerie A. Sulfaro, Campaigning for President in America 1788-2016 (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2016), 495; Tyler Anbinder, Nativism and Slavery: The Northern Know Nothings & the Politics of the 1850s (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 229.
5The Slavocracy or Slave Power refers to the perceived notion that slaveholders exercised disproportionate political power in the 1840s and 1850s, allowing them to control the country. Republicans made wide use of this argument as they sought to gain political power in the late 1850s.
Leonard L. Richards, The Slave Power: The Free North and Southern Domination, 1780-1860 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2000), 1-2.
6Noted speakers at Beloit included Owen Lovejoy, John C. Vaughan, David Noggle, and Martin P. Sweet.
Chicago Daily Tribune (IL), 5 September 1856, 2:4.
Autograph Letter Signed, 3 page(s), Volume Volume 2, Herndon-Weik Collection of Lincolniana, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).