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    [Abraham Lincoln] 1840 DeWitt County Illinois Poll Book. Twenty pages manuscript, 12" x 7.5", November, 1840. An extensive DeWitt County, Illinois poll book from the national election of 1840: "Poll Book for election held in the Clinton Precinct. . . Nov. 1840." Prior to his election as President in 1860, Lincoln was a determined party functionary, actively campaigning for Whig Presidential candidates in every general election from 1840 to 1856. Not only did he barnstorm the country giving speeches, but he was a candidate for Presidential Elector on numerous occasions- the very first being in 1840. In that campaign, he also had occasion to debate Stephen Douglas for the first time. Lincoln supported William Henry Harrison, Douglas was an advocate for the incumbent Martin Van Buren. Unlike other poll books with pre-printed pages listing the names of Whig and Democratic Presidential Electors, this has been carefully manuscript penned with listings of "Abraham Lincoln of Sangamon Co." - repeated on each page. The first eight pages have the names of each voter written in by the election clerk, along with their vote. A tally of the votes received is written on each page, on the bottom. Being a Democratic state, the Van Buren slate of electors received many more votes than the Whig slate. Accordingly, Lincoln failed in his attempt to be elected a Presidential Elector. (From this precinct, however, Lincoln garnered 78 votes- six more than his Democratic counterpart.)

    The election of 1840 was the first campaign with slogans, songs, and modern campaign paraphernalia. The slogan that became best known was "Tippecanoe and Tyler too." (Tippecanoe was the 1811 Indian battle where Harrison proved victorious.) The Whigs "packaged" Harrison, who had been an uninspired military leader, into a great war hero. The major issue in the election was the economy, and Harrison promised to support domestic commerce. Martin Van Buren was re-nominated unenthusiastically by the Democrats in 1840. To many of his countrymen who had suffered through years of depression, he was "Martin Van Ruin." He was chided for wanting to turn the White House into a palace and living extravagantly while the people suffered. Van Buren was so unpopular by this time that he even lost his home state. Election results appeared to be a landslide in the Electoral College, but the popular vote was close. Despite numerous attempts, this is one "office" (an honorary, more than an actual one) that eluded Lincoln his entire career. Still, the experience gained in this and future national elections would prove invaluable in Lincoln's journey toward the White House and immortality. Single leaves from 1840 poll books occasionally surface, but a more complete specimen, such as this, is quite a special offering.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2007
    16th-17th Monday-Tuesday
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