The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 2 by Abraham Lincoln
Selection of Congressional Candidates
TO Gen. J. J. HARDIN, SPRINGFIELD, Jany. 19, 1845.
I do not wish to join in your proposal of a new plan for the selection of a Whig candidate for Congress because:
1st. I am entirely satisfied with the old system under which you and Baker were successively nominated and elected to Congress; and because the Whigs of the district are well acquainted with the system, and, so far as I know or believe, are well satisfied with it. If the old system be thought to be vague, as to all the delegates of the county voting the same way, or as to instructions to them as to whom they are to vote for, or as to filling vacancies, I am willing to join in a provision to make these matters certain.
2d. As to your proposals that a poll shall be opened in every precinct, and that the whole shall take place on the same day, I do not personally object. They seem to me to be not unfair; and I forbear to join in proposing them only because I choose to leave the decision in each county to the Whigs of the county, to be made as their own judgment and convenience may dictate.
3d. As to your proposed stipulation that all the candidates shall remain in their own counties, and restrain their friends in the same it seems to me that on reflection you will see the fact of your having been in Congress has, in various ways, so spread your name in the district as to give you a decided advantage in such a stipulation. I appreciate your desire to keep down excitement; and I promise you to "keep cool" under all circumstances.
4th. I have already said I am satisfied with the old system under which such good men have triumphed and that I desire no departure from its principles. But if there must be a departure from it, I shall insist upon a more accurate and just apportionment of delegates, or representative votes, to the constituent body, than exists by the old, and which you propose to retain in your new plan. If we take the entire population of the counties as shown by the late census, we shall see by the old plan, and by your proposed new plan,
Morgan County, with a population 16,541, has but ....... 8 votes While Sangamon with 18,697--2156 greater has but ....... 8 " So Scott with 6553 has ................................. 4 " While Tazewell with 7615 1062 greater has but .......... 4 " So Mason with 3135 has ................................. 1 vote While Logan with 3907, 772 greater, has but ............ 1 "
And so on in a less degree the matter runs through all the counties, being not only wrong in principle, but the advantage of it being all manifestly in your favor with one slight exception, in the comparison of two counties not here mentioned.
Again, if we take the Whig votes of the counties as shown by the late Presidential election as a basis, the thing is still worse.
It seems to me most obvious that the old system needs adjustment in nothing so much as in this; and still, by your proposal, no notice is taken of it. I have always been in the habit of acceding to almost any proposal that a friend would make and I am truly sorry that I cannot in this. I perhaps ought to mention that some friends at different places are endeavoring to secure the honor of the sitting of the convention at their towns respectively, and I fear that they would not feel much complimented if we shall make a bargain that it should sit nowhere.
Yours as ever,