Andrew McCallen to Abraham Lincoln, 20 September 18561Shawneetown Ills
Sept 20th 56.Hon A LincolnDr[Dear] Sir.
I addessred you a letter a short time since in relation to the politics of this part of the state &c[etc.]— and duly received your kind reply–2 In my former letter I defined the true position of myself and friends– We have succeeded— even beond— my most sanguine hopes in widening the breach between the Fillmore party & the pro slavery propagandists. There is now nothing more to be done, than to keep the ball in motion, can you not visit us during the canvass.3 If you can use my name successfully before the convention on the 25th do so, if not, alls well. Our part of the state would have been represented— but we thought it best to play out our hand as we had begun.4 Let me hear from you.5Truly YoursA. McCallen
3During the 1856 Federal Election many in the Illinois Republican Party, including Lincoln, were anxious to convince supporters of American Party presidential candidate Millard Fillmore to unite with Republicans in order to defeat Democratic Party candidate James Buchanan. In a letter-writing campaign to some in Illinois that he believed supported Fillmore, Lincoln argued that Fillmore stood no chance of success in Illinois and that therefore Fillmore supporters should cast their ballots for Republican candidate John C. Fremont rather than waste a vote on Fillmore.
Lincoln did not speak in Shawneetown, Illinois during the remainder of the election season.
Thomas F. Schwartz, “Lincoln, Form Letters, and Fillmore Men,” Illinois Historical Journal 78 (Spring 1985), 69; Abraham Lincoln to James Berdan; Abraham Lincoln to Thomas Hull; Abraham Lincoln to Edward Lawrence; Abraham Lincoln to William Ryan; Abraham Lincoln to Harrison Maltby; The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, September 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarMonth&year=1856&month=9; October 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarMonth&year=1856&month=10; November 1856, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarMonth&year=1856&month=11.
4Opponents of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in Illinois met in Springfield on September 25 to select the Republican Party’s nominee for lieutenant governor after Francis A. Hoffman, whom the party had nominated for lieutenant governor during the May 1856 Illinois Anti-Nebraska Convention, withdrew his name from the ballot after it was determined that he was ineligible for the office under the 1848 Illinois Constitution. Delegates to the September 25 convention nominated John Wood for lieutenant governor. Gallatin County—of which Shawneetown was a part—was not represented by any delegates at the September convention. It had also not been represented by any delegates at the May convention.
Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 30 May 1856, 2:1-2; 25 September 1856, 2:1-2; J. H. A. Lacher, “Francis A. Hoffman of Illinois and Hans Buschbauer of Wisconsin,” Wisconsin Magazine of History 13 (June 1930): 343; James N. Adams, comp., Illinois Place Names (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Society, 1989), 505.
5Lincoln’s reply, if he wrote one, has not been located.
Ultimately, Illinois Republicans failed to bring Fillmore’s supporters to their side. Many members of the nativist American Party believed the false rumor that Fremont was a Catholic, in addition to charges that Fremont was radical on the issue of slavery. 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. The race was most difficult for Republicans in Southern Illinois, as so few Republicans lived in that region of the state. Gallatin County’s voters awarded Buchanan a strong majority: 63.1 percent of the vote to 34.9 percent for Fillmore and a meagre 2 percent for Fremont. The Republican Party swept the races for every state office in Illinois, however. Wood won election as lieutenant governor on the ticket with gubernatorial candidate William H. Bissell.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:425, 433; Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 10, 136; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 20 November 1856, 2:2.
Autograph Letter Signed, 1 page(s), Volume Volume 2, Herndon-Weik Collection of Lincolniana, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).