Description[1856 Presidential Election], [Fugitive Slave Law], and [Kansas]. John McLean Autograph Letter Signed With Related Papers. John McLean letter to Gamaliel Bailey; three pages, 5.25" x 8", Chapel Wood; October 31, 1856. A lengthy letter declining to endorse a presidential candidate and detailing his views of the current political situation as it pertained to the impending entry of Kansas as a slave state and presidential election. In part: "Never until lately did I suppose that slavery could be introduced to or established in Kansas. Now, I fear it is more than probable. When I saw that Greeley and others advised their friends in Kansas not to vote at the late election, I had no doubt the election would be peaceful, and that the pro slavery men would have little or no opposition. Such has been the result. The anti slavery men should have attended the polls and offered to vote; and if required by a prerequisite to the right to vote, to [illegible word] to the support the territorial law as violence had been offered, they should have refused. But to show their members they should have organized informally, cast their votes, which should have been returned to Washington. In following the advice given, I fear they have yielded everything. At the next Congress the democrats will have a decided majority, and can do as they please. Slavery in Kansas, and in Utah.." More great content. In near fine condition, with bright paper and two small ink stains.
Together with three letters from Bailey dated June 16, 1856 (three pages), October 1, 1856 (2 pages), and October 26, 1856 (1 page); all with content on related topics. The October 26 letter is written on the integral blank of a letter from John Wentworth to Bailey asking him to get McLean to endorse John C. Fremont. Bailey requests in his letter that that McLean "signify your friendship to the Republican movement or general principles." All three of Bailey's letters are transmitted, as evidenced by McLean's docket on each.
The final letter in this group is a fair copy in an unknown hand (possibly one of Bailey's biographers) of a letter from John McLean dated June 17, 1856 regarding the Fugitive Slave Law, the Missouri Compromise and Kansas. In small part: "I have said often that I should not have voted for the fugitive slave law without material modification. Still I believe the South under the Constitution are entitled to a return of their runaway slaves. I drew the amendment to give a jury to the slave which was offered by Webster. No man in the state was more decidedly opposed to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise than myself. I remonstrated in every term & Stephens and others against such a measure... The affairs of Kansas will form the darkest page in our history. Squatter sovereignty has no sanctions under the Constitution..."
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