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Rail Splinters

Lincoln Ballots 1834-1864

December 28, 2019

In going over some research files, we came across pictures of two very unusual Lincoln-related ballots. The first is quite historic, being the first piece of ephemera related to the political career of Abraham Lincoln. It is a Whig ballot from an Illinois election held on August 4, 1834. The ballot specifies a referendum to move the state capital from Vandalia to Springfield. Beyond that, there is no party mentioned and no candidates listed… only the elective offices to be filled. The voter filled in the party name (“Whig”) and the his choice of candidates. His selections for State Representatives included: Stuart, Lincoln, Neal and Alvey. Lincoln had first run for this office in 1832, but was defeated. While serving in the Black Hawk War, he met John Todd Stuart. Both men would be successful in their 1834 run for office and Stuart and Lincoln formed a law partnership in 1837, operating out of the new state capital, Springfield. The other ballot that we picture was issued thirty years later in New Hampshire. It is not a true ballot, but a bit of political mudslinging, guised in the form of a ballot. It ridicules various anti-administration Democrats, labeling them as Copperheads. We quote the subtext: “The chief aim of a Copperhead is to abuse the President and vilify the administration. We believe in the Union as it was and the Constitution as it is, and George B. McClellan, who was born of respectable parents; suffered under Edwin M. Stanton; descended into the swamps of the Chickahominy, and was driven therefrom by fire and sword; on the seventh day ascended Malvern Hill, from whence he withdrew to Harrison’s Landing, where he rested many days; returned to the Potomac; ‘fought his last battle’; was removed from his command and entered into oblivion. We also believe in the inalienable doctrine of State rights; in the admission of slavery into all the States and Territories of the Union; in the illegality of the Confiscation Act, of the draft, of the suspension of the habeas corpus, arbitrary arrests, and of the Proclamation of Emancipation. And finally, we believe in peace by submission to our enemies. On these two commandments hang the destiny of the Copperhead party: ‘Thou shalt hate the nigger with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.’ And the second is like unto it: ‘Thou shalt hate an Abolitionist like the Devil.’” Despite the vitriol… a “fun” item!