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    [Zachary Taylor]. 1848 Meredosia Precinct [Illinois] Poll Book from one of the most pivotal and divisive presidential campaigns in the early nineteenth century. Ten partly-printed pages, 15.75" x 12.25", "November Election, 1848." The document records the votes of 220 citizens, showing a slight favor for the Cass and Butler ticket: 125 versus 92 for Taylor and Fillmore; just 3 for Van Buren and Adams. On blue paper listing the names of proposed electors for each party, several with Abraham Lincoln association, including O. H. Browning and A. G. Henry. Usual vertical fold, quite clean. Any political item from the 1848 campaign is quite rare.

    When President Polk refused to seek a second term, the Democrats turned to Lewis Cass of Michigan to be their standard-bearer. Cass (1782-1866) distinguished himself in the War of 1812 and later as secretary of war serving in Andrew Jackson's cabinet. He served in the Senate and later enjoyed credit for several diplomatic victories as Buchanan's secretary of state. Cass advocated "popular sovereignty" on the slavery issue, meaning that each territory should decide the question for itself, a stance that pleased neither side. The Whigs nominated Zachary Taylor, the hero of the Battle of Buena Vista. General Taylor (1784-1850) fought in the War of 1812, defeated the Indians ending the Black Hawk War in 1832, and following Rio Grande, was cited by Congress for "Skill enterprise and courage" in successes against Mexico having defeated Santa Anna. Despite never having voted and lacking any political experience, "Old Rough and Ready" (who died one year into his presidency) was clearly the front-runner. The focus of the campaign centered on the issue of whether to allow the areas acquired in the Mexican War to permit slavery. Taylor said very little on the matter since he owned as many as 200 slaves himself. The election was complicated by active participation from two other parties. The Liberty Party, which had run with some success on an anti-slavery platform in 1844, tried again in 1848, but lost its issue to a stronger challenger. The Free-Soil Party nominated former President Martin Van Buren (running with Charles Francis Adams), and garnered 300,000 votes. Van Buren's third party was in complete opposition to the expansion of slavery. Although the Free-Soilers did not carry any states, the 10% of the popular vote they received was enough to insure Taylor's victory to the Cass ticket. Taylor won by a margin of 139,000 votes.

    Also included are six pages of poll sheets dated March 6, 1848, from the same precinct's votes for the state constitution (passed), a new mill tax, and most significantly, "For the Article in relation to Colored Persons." These last sheets include the affidavits of the Clerks of the Election certifying that all was correct.


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    October, 2010
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