Description

    Franklin Pierce works for the Catholic vote

    Franklin Pierce Archive containing six Franklin Pierce Autograph Letters Signed "Frank Pierce" or "Franklin Pierce" and two Franklin Pierce Free-Franked Envelopes. All are written to Charles O'Conor, a presidential elector in 1852 from New York. Also included are two drafts of two letters from O'Conor to Pierce, totaling five pages and written in July and August 1852.

    At the Democratic National Convention in early June 1852, Franklin Pierce, a veteran of the Mexican War, earned the surprise nomination of the party. He went on to soundly defeat the Whig nominee, General Winfield Scott, 254 electoral votes to 42. Pierce's letters in this archive are dated between March 1852 and May 1862. In the first, three pages written on March 24, 1852, Pierce states his shame that New Hampshire had once excluded Catholics from holding public office. "You must have been surprised at my failure to answer your letter of Dec. 24th. The fact is, I was ashamed to make the confession which truth would then have demanded. At the time of the adoption of our State Constitution in 1784 the religious test was inserted to . . . [illegible] taunts that had been flung out after the French Alliance that then was also to be an alliance with the French religion and the Establishment of it here. By the Convention of 1791, the provision was rejected by a decided vote and the rejection was ratified by a majority of the people but a two thirds vote being required for the adoption of the amendment, the odious feature still retained its place. In the Convention of 1850 consisting of about 270 members the vote to strike out this test was almost entirely unanimous. . . . The amendment of the Constitution in this respect was submitted to the people at the late election and altho' we are not in the receipt of full returns there is reason to believe, that the state is to be no longer disgraced by such a provision in its fundamental law." O'Conor has written an endorsement below Pierce's signature to E. L. Floors[?] explaining that he had previously written to Pierce, "a distinguished lawyer" from New Hampshire, to find an answer to his question of "whether Roman Catholics are excluded from office in the state of New Hampshire." Catholic support, such as O'Conor's, helped Pierce win the election later in the year.

    In a letter dated August 11, 1852, just three months before the presidential election, Pierce denounces a recent speech by Charles Robinson after hearing from "friends who know the facts & who have read the speech that it is a . . . [illegible] of downright false hoods." Later on the 25th as he and his family vacationed at Ocean House on Rye Beach in New Hampshire, Pierce assures O'Conor that he was an early advocate to cut the religious test out of the New Hampshire constitution. "As early as 1832 I advocated the calling of a convention for the revision of our Constitution." Pierce's final three letters were written in September 1859 (with free-franked envelope), June 1860, and May 1862 (with free-franked envelope). In these, he writes of his own health and the health of "Mrs. P." All letters are age toned with folds. One of O'Conor's drafts contains chips and minor tears along the upper and lower edges.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2011
    8th-9th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
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