John W. Hawes to Abraham Lincoln, 15 September 18561Post Office Eminence Ills, Sept. 15th 1856Hon. A Lincoln Esq[Esquire]:Dear Sir,
I had the Honour of a Letter from you, Dated on the 9th instant, in which you inform me, that you had been informed that I was a Fillmore man, how Such a Report Could have been gotten out, I am unable to understand.2 I have always been a Whig, and was Truly a Fillmore Man, untill he was found in bad Company,3 but Sir, as I was opposed to the Repeal of the Mo. Restrictions, and to the Nebraska & Kansas outrage, I at once Became an anti Nebraska man, and have battled with all the influence that I possessed I am now Battling for Mr Fremont, with all my might, and please Let me Say to you, that in my humble way, that I am doing as much perhaps as the Most of our Country folks for the Cause of Fremont. I have Expended Considerable of funds, in Circulating Congressional Speeches of the Right Stripe. I have Sent $20 to the Editors of NY. Tribune for to be Sent to persons of a Doubtfull Characters with Regard to who they would vote for– I have Sent $6. to the Editors of State Journal for the Same purpose, and Let me assure you that I am Making it pay. your are aware perhaps, that this precinct has alwais been the Terror of the Democracy of this County, and Congressional District this precinct once Elected to Congress Hon John T Stewart, and at the Time that you was Elected
<Page 2>to Congress, we gave you Seven votes, to old uncle peters and, this precinct has been the Strong hold of Whigery and has heretofore Governed the political aspect of Logan County,4 and as Mr Fillmore was Elected to the vice presidency as a Whig, many of the Whigs in this Section of our County Still adhered to him Not Considering by whom he was Nominated,5 hence the Difficulty here to get all the Whigs here to drop him has been to Cause of all my Labours, but as I Stated above, I have made it pay, our precinct has Recently been Cut in Two by our County Court6 therefore we Shall be able to Cast ^no^ more then perhaps ^than^ one Hundred and fifty or Sixty votes, of these, Mr Fremont will Get 115, Fillmore 25 and old Batch Buck Say from 15 to 20 votes; I think that this Statement Can be Relyed upon, as we now Stand, but as I have a Strong helper in the Shape of Col. Sumner, who was heretofore a Democrat. We Can I think Still Reduce the Fillmore vote, What few Democrats or Buchanan Men we have here, they are dyed in the Wool, thunder and Lightening or in Dutch Dunner und Blitsen, would not Change their political aspects. You are aware, that I am postmaster at this place, and for which Reason, I must ask you to make this Confidential, if old uncle Frank was to hear that I Suppore Mr Fremont, I would git my walking papers pretty quick.7
Now with Regard to the Kansas Troubles, I have again and again Sent funds for the Relief of the Suferers of Kansas, and Sir, was I a young Man, I would Send myself to Kansas to help them fight it out, but as I am now almost 70 Years of age, and weigh some 275 lbs, I would make too Big a Mark for them Border Roughans to Shoot at.
The Speech that you Made at Atlanta the other Evening told well.8 Many of the Fillmore Men that were present have come Right Side up.
Col. Richardson & Traitor dug or Little Dug, are to be at Atlanta on Wednesday the 17th instant. to inlighten the unterrified. Many of the Fremonters will be present, to Cheer Fremont after Little dug is done Speaking9
I must now Close otherwise you will Tire Before you Read the half of it. I will only add, that Eminence is 4 Miles due west from Atlanta, and that here is the Garden Spot of the Great prairie State, that this Community are Mostly farmers, that they all have pretty farms, pretty White Houses, pretty Wives and pretty Children and Good Schools for the instructions of these pretty Children. Good Sosiety, how Can it be otherwise when we are ^all^ Right Side up10As Ever, Your Truly and RespectfullyJohn Hawes
2Abraham Lincoln’s September 9, 1856, letter to Hawes has not been located. However, during the second week in September Lincoln sent a series of form letters to those he believed supported American Party candidate Millard Fillmore for president in the 1856 Federal Election. Lincoln most likely also sent such a letter to Hawes. The form letters were based upon a letter Lincoln wrote John Bennett in early August and constituted part of a letter-writing campaign that Lincoln—aided by his political allies—undertook in an effort to convince Fillmore supporters to vote for Republican presidential candidate John C. Fremont instead.
3Hawes is most likely referring to Fillmore’s affiliation with the nativist Know-Nothing movement. Fillmore had been a Whig until he tied himself to the Know Nothings’ nativist agenda.
Tyler Anbinder, “Fillmore, Millard,” American National Biography, ed. by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 7:910-11.
4The voters of Logan County voted for Whig candidates in the presidential, congressional, and gubernatorial races from 1840 to 1852 with only one exception: in 1848, Logan County’s voters overwhelmingly cast their ballots for Democrat Augustus C. French for governor. In the 1854 race for the U.S. House of Representatives, the county’s voters cast their ballots for their first Republican candidate, William B. Archer.
In 1838, John T. Stuart defeated Stephen A. Douglas for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Illinois’ Third Congressional District. Voters in Tazewell County, of which Eminence was a part, gave Stuart 61.1 percent of the vote to 38.9 percent for Douglas. Voters in Sangamon County, of which other parts of what would become Logan County were a part, gave Stuart 54.5 percent to 45.5 percent for Douglas.
In 1846, Lincoln defeated Democrat Peter Cartwright for a seat in the U.S. House representing Illinois’ Seventh Congressional District. Voters In Logan County gave Lincoln 70.1 percent of the vote and Cartwright just 29.9 percent.
History of Logan County, Illinois: Its Past and Present (Chicago: Donnelley and Loyd, 1878), 227; James N. Adams, comp., Illinois Place Names (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Society, 1989), 355; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 6, 8, 106, 107, 109-10, 113-14, 116-18, 120, 122, 124, 126, 128-29, 131, 133-35.
5Delegates to the American Party national convention in February 1856 nominated Filmore for president.
Tyler Anbinder, “Fillmore, Millard,” American National Biography, ed. by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, 7:911.
6Eminence, Illinois was divided between two voting precincts in 1855: the Atlanta precinct, which included the townships of Atlanta and Oran as well as the eastern portion of Eminence, and the Sugar Creek precinct, which included the remaining portions of Eminence as well as Orvil Township and the portion of East Lincoln Township that bordered Kickapoo Creek.
Lawrence B. Stringer, History of Logan County, Illinois (Chicago: Pioneer, 1911), 1:164.
7Hawes is referring to the fact that his position as postmaster was subject to federal appointment and, therefore, to the whims of political patronage. President Franklin Pierce possessed the authority to replace Hawes with a Democrat if he chose.
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), 416-18.
8Lincoln delivered an address in Atlanta, Illinois on September 4. It was one of more than fifty speeches he gave throughout Illinois as he canvassed on behalf of the Republican Party during the 1856 election campaign.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:425; The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 4 September 1856, http://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1856-09-04.
9William A. Richardson and Douglas both spoke in Atlanta, Illinois on September 18, not the 17th.
Daily Illinois State Register (Springfield, IL), 19 September 1856, 2:1-2.
10Ultimately, James Buchanan won the presidency. In Illinois, Buchanan won 44.1 percent of the total vote to Fillmore’s 15.7 percent and Fremont’s 40.2 percent. In Logan County, voters cast 41.9 percent of their ballots for Buchanan, 24.7 percent for Fillmore, and 33.4 percent for Fremont.
Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990, 10, 136-37.
Autograph Letter Signed, 3 page(s), Volume Volume 2, Herndon-Weik Collection of Lincolniana, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).