Anson G. Henry and Others to the Readers of The Old Soldier, 12 October 18401To the Readers of the Old Soldier, and more especially to the Harrison men of Illinois.
This number of the “Old Soldier,” closes the period for which it was originally designed to be published. Should any important event transpire, which would render it necessary that we should again address you before the Election; we shall do so through an “Extra-Old Soldier.”
The present is a most befitting time, on our part, to address you. The solicitude we feel in the answer to that question—“FOR WHOM WILL ILLINOIS VOTE AT THE COMING ELECTION?” impels us to make to you a most earnest appeal; and in making that appeal, we would so represent the importance of the coming election, as to arouse the slumbering energies of our people into action, and insure the exercise of the right of suffrage by every freeman within the bounds of our State.
But three weeks more, and the greatest political battle is to be fought that has convulsed this Nation from the hour the Declaration of Independence was made, down to the present day. The result is to be, either a continuation of those embarrassments, wrongs and oppressions, under which this whole Union has been groaning during the entire existence of the present Administration;—or a speedy return to those happy days of prosperity, with which, as a People, we were blessed before the election of Martin Van Buren. That the latter will be the result of the coming struggle, we entertain not a reasonable doubt; but, to us, the great question is,—“Shall the name of Illinois be inscribed upon the pages of history as among those States which in 1840, succeeded in banishing from the highest place of Trust known to the People of this Republic, an individual who had secured that station without merit of his own, and who sought to retain it, by usurping to himself, the control of Congress, and of the Sword and the Purse of the Nation; or, shall our beloved State be the biographer of her own disgrace, in being numbered amongst the five or six States, who ingloriously sought to continue him in power?”
This question, fellow countrymen, is an important one. Its answer affects our reputation—our moral and intellectual advancement—and our future prosperity;—and as you value all these, so let us entreat you, at the approaching election, to exercise the inestimable Right of Suffrage.
The Enemies of Power and the Friends of the People, are sufficient in number to carry the State for the PatrioAllt Harrison, if they will but be vigilant, and active, from this time to the Election. The numerical strength we have, if all will but go to the ballot boxes and deposit their votes. It is our own supineness and indifference to the result of the contest in this State, that we have to fear and guard against —not the numbers of our untiring opponents. But one feeling should animate the bosom of every Harrison man in the State,—that upon ☞HIS VOTE☜ depends the contest;—and then, whether blessed with health in the vigor of manhood, or laboring under the infirmities of age—or palsied by the hand of disease;—no man within our borders would lose his vote! This done the Victory is ours!—and Illinois will have cast off the chains of Despotism that Martin Van Buren is attempting to rivet upon her; and will proudly take her stand among the Redeemed States of the Union—stript[stripped] of her Regal robes, but arrayed in the plain and imposing garb of American Liberty! We are not unconscious of the vile and despicable means that are daily employing to defeat the People, and ensure success on the part of those in Power. The entire control of the purse strings of the nation now vested in the President—the one hundred thousand office-holders dependent on his will and pleasure for official existence! are, to a man, against us! The Post-Office Department—that great medium for the free dissemination of information, political and religious, throughout our land—controlled by one of his most fawning and pliant sycophants,—daily scattering through the country “thousands and tens of thousands” of the “Extra Globe,” filled with the most barefaced falsehoods and misrepresentations—appealing to the basest passions of the human heart—and charging upon the Veteran Harrison the most groundless and blackest calumnies the human mind can invent—all emanating from the pen of that modern Robespiere, ☞Amos Kendall; while the Harrison papers containing their refutations, are withheld, until the poison, in their opinion, has had timeto[time to] take effect;—are, indeed, formidable weapons, against which the People have to contend:—But formidable as they may appear, and as successful as Martin Van Buren, the author of them, may hope they will prove, he will find to his discomfiture and dismay, that he has most grossly misjudged the American People.
In the States of Connecticut—Rhode Island—Virginia—Louisiana—North Carolina—Alabama—Kentucky—Indiana—Vermont and Maine—where elections have already been held,—he has been stricken with the lightning of public opinion, and while he now stands a notable testimony of its power, ere the Ides of November have passed, he will find that he cannot again bear its visitation without being utterly consumed.2
Rally, then, Freemen of Illinois! under the banner of the Constitution—of Harrison and Liberty! Rekindle in your own breasts the fire of Patriotism that animated those of your Forefathers in the glorious struggle for Independence; and from this time until the battle is ended, devote your time—your exertions—and every energy of your mind in the cause of your country; and in the attempt now making to rescue her violated Constitution and Laws from the hands of Martin Van Buren. Between him and despotic power, there is but one more stride.—Re-elect him, and that will soon be taken. Re-elect him, and the requiem of our departed liberty, will be chaunted[chanted] by every despotic nation upon earth. Defeat him, and the pure principles of Washington, Jeferrson and Madison, and their illustrious compeers, will again control our National Councils—the blighting influence of bad counsel and bad government will pass away—and Internal Peace, and National and Individual prosperity, will again bless a smiling, united and happy land.3
1Abraham Lincoln was one of the editors of the Old Soldier, so the text is attributed to him, but the extent of his participation in its composition is unknown.
2All these states, except Virginia and Alabama, went for Harrison, giving him 73 electoral votes to the 30 Van Buren received from Virginia and Alabama.
W. Dean Burnham, Presidential Ballots, 1836-1892 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1955), 246-57, 887.
3Despite the pleas of Henry, Lincoln, and the others, Illinois would go for Martin Van Buren, 47,443 to 45,576, joining Virginia, Alabama, South Carolina, Missouri, Arkansas, and New Hampshire as the states giving their electoral votes to Van Buren.
Theodore C. Pease, ed., Illinois Election Returns, 1818-1848, vol. 18 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1923), 117; W. Dean Burnham, Presidential Ballots, 1836-1892, 246-57.
Printed Transcription, 1 page(s), The Old Soldier (Springfield, IL), 12 October 1840, 4:1-2