Description[Zachary Taylor] William L. Dayton Autograph Letter Signed Reporting on Whig Politics During the 1848 Campaign. One page, 7.75"x 10", "Sen. Chambers/Friday morng." n.p., n.d. [early 1848]. Senator Dayton writes to an unknown correspondent discussing the publishing of one of his speeches, Whig nominating committees, and the upcoming presidential elections. In full: "Of course I was aware that the publication & was a mere inadvertence, but the unpleasant circumstances under which the speech was delivered made me a little sensitive. I have had no idea of presenting the speech to be published. Mr Gales sent me the speech reported to correct. I kept it & yet mean to keep it... No human being can tell what will be the result of things here. A caucus last night indicated a great deal of bad feeling among us. I wish [Henry] Clay was away. [Zachary] Taylor's friend will go with a convention, if that convention will first power itself to nominate Taylor."
"Mr. Gales" is Joseph Gales, Jr. Together with William Seaton, he edited the National Intelligencer newspaper and regularly reported on Congressional speeches and legislative actions. Dayton notes his refusal to edit and return the transcript of the unidentified speech, then goes on to discuss party politics.
The Whig party was deeply divided in the months prior to its July 1848 presidential nominating convention. Members were acutely concerned about the question of expanding slavery to the territories, and opposing factions developed, supporting either Henry Clay or Zachary Taylor for the nomination. Dayton, an abolitionist, opposed Clay, a slave owner who felt that individual territories should decide whether or not to allow slavery, instead of working to abolish the system entirely. Taylor was chosen as the Whig's candidate, and went on to win the presidency. In 1856, Dayton would be chosen by the newly formed Republican Party as its first nominee for Vice President, to run with John C. Fremont. Dayton beat Abraham Lincoln for that nomination, but lost the presidential nomination to him in 1860. Boldly penned and signed.
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