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Lincoln’s angry patronage plea acquired by museum

Friday, Feb 9, 2018

* Press release from the ALPLM…

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum launched its celebration of Lincoln’s birthday by announcing two major acquisitions: an angry letter the future president wrote to a colleague and a painting that shows the young Lincoln reading while he takes a break from chopping wood.

* Explanation from the ALPLM…

Letter to Andrew McCormack

Andrew McCormack was one of the “Long Nine,” an alliance of Whig legislators from Sangamon County whose average height was 6 feet. The Long Nine were instrumental in moving the state capital to Springfield, and McCormack (whose family later changed the spelling of the name to “McCormick”) would go on to become mayor of Springfield in 1843.

The letter does not include a date. It most likely was written in January 1839, when the new General Assembly was convening after the election of the previous fall. It may have been hand-delivered during the House session to McCormack, who had been a captain of volunteers in the Black Hawk War.

The issue in dispute was the job of state printer. Abraham Lincoln wanted his friend and Whig ally Simeon Francis to get the post. He feared that McCormack was supporting Democrat William Walters, editor of the Illinois State Register newspaper.

* Lincoln’s letter…

Dear Captain:

I have just learned, with utter astonishment, that you have some notion of voting for Walters. This certainly can not be true. It can not be, that one so true, firm, and unwavering as you have ever been, can for a moment think of such a thing. What! Support that pet of all those who continually slander and abuse you, and labour, day and night, for your destruction. All our friends are ready to cut our throats about it. An angel from heaven could not make them believe, that we do not connive at it. For Heaven’s sake, for your friends sake, for the sake of the recollection of all the hard battles we have heretofore fought shoulder, to shoulder, do not forsake us this time. We have been told for two or three days that you were in danger; but we gave it the lie whenever we heard it. We were willing to bet our lives upon you. Stand by us this time, and nothing in our power to confer, shall ever be denied you. Surely! Surely! You do not doubt my friendship for you. If you do, what under Heaven can I do, to convince you. Surely you will not think those who have been your revilers, better friends than I. Read this & write what you will do.

Your friend,
Lincoln

Man, that guy could write. That “pet of all those who continually slander and abuse you, and labour, day and night, for your destruction.” Hilarious.

* Also, here’s some background on Lincoln’s relationship with the Illinois State Register, which later merged with the Illinois State Journal

By 1854, Illinois was home to more than 150 newspapers, including the Illinois State Journal and the Illinois State Register. Like most papers of the day, they were political organs, preaching the importance of allegiance to party ideas and leaders. Newspapers and their editors held a great deal of power, power to help an aspiring politician like Lincoln

As a member of the political community in Springfield, Lincoln was associated with city newspapers. Since the press was the primary means of communicating to the electorate the views of office holders and office seekers, it was important for Lincoln the politician to develop a working relationship with the Whig-Republican organ, the Illinois State Journal. The paper became an outlet for Lincoln’s opinions through letters to the editor, reports of his speeches, and editorials he wrote.

Lincoln’s association with the Journal was more than political; it was friendship too. Lincoln knew Simeon Francis, the editor, perhaps better than he knew anybody else in Springfield except his law partner, John T. Stuart, and his close friend Joshua Speed. The Journal supported Lincoln throughout his rise in politics. In 1864, Lincoln wrote: “The Journal paper was always my friend; and of course its editors the same.” […]

On February 11,1861, the day Lincoln left Springfield, the Journal stated its belief in the president-elect’s courage to do what was necessary to protect and defend the Constitution. The Register was not as optimistic. It expressed fear that Lincoln was now in a position to make true his declaration of 1858: “This Union cannot permanently endure part slave and part free.” The editor hoped “that he may prove less ambitious to be considered a prophet than a patriot.” […]

Throughout 1863 the Register continued to attack the president. The Register portrayed Lincoln as a “babbling township politician,” “Czar Abraham,” and “the obscuring lawyer of Springfield” who by political accident had become president. In its October 8,1863, editorial the Register directed itself to the president: “We have all the time been giving you ‘honest counsel,’ to which you have paid no attention. We have been unceasing in our efforts to point out your errors, as unceasingly have you persisted in them.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

11 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 2:22 pm:

    –The issue in dispute was the job of state printer. Abraham Lincoln wanted his friend and Whig ally Simeon Francis to get the post. He feared that McCormack was supporting Democrat William Walters, editor of the Illinois State Register newspaper.–

    Human nature is pretty constant, the world over.


  2. - Honeybear - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 2:25 pm:

    How interesting—-Long Nine

    In the age of fighting sail a long nine was a cannon with a longer barrel firing a nine pound ball. It’s range was farther than that of nine pounders places port and starboard. Long nines were thus as “bow” or stern chasers, the front or back of the ship. Great name the Long nine. It conveyed forward thinking and ability to hit an issue before others.
    Cool


  3. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 2:27 pm:

    The eloquence of Lincoln: see above.
    The ‘eloquence of Rauner: “Um haha, um, you know what? I’m glad you asked that. MADIGAN


  4. - Steve Rogers - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 2:31 pm:

    Cool. This was featured on Antiques Roadshow a few years ago: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/season/2/atlanta-ga/appraisals/1841-abraham-lincoln-letter–199703A21/


  5. - Contract disputin' - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 3:18 pm:

    His eloquence sure beats “f-in’ golden”, “crass”, or “contract disputin’” on the back porch.


  6. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 3:42 pm:

    Thanks Honeybear for clearing up this “long nine’ business early on….hopefully prevented a series of juvenile yuks of a different sort. Which is exactly where I was headed…..thanks again.


  7. - Deadbeat Conservative - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 3:46 pm:

    = Support that pet of all those who continually slander and abuse you, and labour, day and night, for your destruction. =

    And a founding pillar for Tea Party platform candidates was erected.


  8. - CCP Hostage - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 4:08 pm:

    Nice post, thanks Rich


  9. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 4:13 pm:

    Lincoln was a great orator because he could write with such eloquence when pointing a sharp edge or taking a fierce bite out of a subject.

    Its a fun read, a treat.

    Thanks for sharing, Rich


  10. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 4:51 pm:

    Thanks Rich and Honeybear. That’s a bit of sailor lingo I never picked up.


  11. - bear3 - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 5:09 pm:

    Great reading Rich and thank you with the 12 of Feb being hear!


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