[LINCOLN, Abraham]. ILLINOIS LEGISLATURE. Reports Made to the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Illinois. Their Session Begun and Held at Springfield, December 9, 1839. Springfield, Illinois: William Walters, Public Printer, 1840.
2 vols. in one, thick 12o (8½ x 5 3/8 in.). xii, 371, xii; 478pp. Original blue-gray paper wrappers, front wrapper with ink inscription "Reports for 1841"), Minor straces of foxing, a few corners folded, otherwise in good condition. Half red morocco slipcase.
MISTER LINCOLN GOES TO SPRINGFIELD, 1839. This volume contains a Lincoln rarity (Monaghan 3): Reports from the Joint Select Committee to enquire into the condition of the State Bank of Illinois.... Jan. 21, 1840. Lincoln was a member of the Committee and his name appears several times in the Report. Problems with the bank--its liquidity, the soundness of its paper--loom large in this report and in others throughout the volume. Numerous other reports deal with internal improvements and measures for funding canal construction and other public works. Taken together, these documents sketch out the political battle lines between Democrats and Whigs. Lincoln, like a good Whig man, favored higher taxes that would provide the necessary revenues for internal improvements. He likewise favored a strong national banking system that could supply a steady stream of credit for businesses. But to Democrats like the state's governor, Thomas Carlin, these Whig measures threatened the economic and political fabric of the state. In his Message to the legislature, printed at the beginning of this volume, Carlin calls the rising costs of internal improvements "truly alarming" and warned that public credit has been "extended to exhaustion." On the other major issue, the banking system, Carlin denounced all banks as "monied oligarchs" and singled out the rickety State Bank of Illinois as "radically defective and unsanctioned by any principle of republican virtue."
For Lincoln, in this early phase of his political career, these legislative battles helped strengthen his core political beliefs. The Whig agenda, writes biographer David Donald, "embodied the promise of American life" for Lincoln. Economically it stood for growth, for development, for progress." It looked to the coordination of interests between the industrialists of the Northeast, the grain farmers in the Midwest, and the cotton and tobacco growers in the South. Lincoln hoped that "when economic interests worked together, so would political interests, and sectional rivalries would be forgotten in a powerful American nationalism" (Donald, Lincoln, 110).