FILLMORE, Millard (1800-1874), President. Autograph letter signed ("M Fillmore") as Congressman, to Solomon G. Haven (1810-1861), Washington, 7 December 1839. 1 page, 4to (10 x 7 7/8 in.), integral blank, minor browning, otherwise in very fine condition.
FILLMORE'S DOUBTS ABOUT THE PARTY'S LIKELY NOMINEE: "FAITH IS AS NECESSARY TO SUCCESS IN POLITICS AS TO DEVOTION IN RELIGION"
Fillmore looks forward to the Whig Convention at Harrisburg, at which William Henry Harrison, Winfield Scott and Henry Clay would contend for the Presidential nomination, and confesses doubts about Clay's chances to win the 1840 election. The Whigs, formed in opposition to the policies of Andrew Jackson, represented a coalition of diverse sectional interests. Unable to beat Martin Van Buren in 1836, the party looked hopefully to 1840. At their Convention in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the initial frontrunner was prominent Kentucky politician Henry Clay, But Clay was not popular in the North and his membership in the Masons alienated a significant anti-Masonic faction. Fillmore, a founding member of the Whig Party in western New York, was a supporter of William Henry Harrison.
Writing to his friend, the future Mayor of Buffalo, Fillmore discusses Congressional activity: "Another day has passed here without accomplishing anything. Talk-talk-talk is all we do; and I must refer you to the papers for that." He quickly launches into a discussion of events at the Whig Convention: "News from Harrisburgh today says that the convention has taken one vote in which Clay had 101, Harrison 77, Scott 74 to wit N.Y., N.J., Mass. & Mich. Our friends fear that Clay will finally be nominated. If so he will receive the nomination chiefly from the southern states who can not give him a vote. The result is easily foreseen. It will soon be so apparent that he can not get some of the strong Whig states & the danger is he will hardly get any." Having mourned the perceived path of the Convention, Fillmore concludes with a pointed quote on party loyalty: "Faith is as necessary to success in politics as to devotion in religion."
After several ballots, the Convention found it impossible to nominate Clay. On each successive ballot, Harrison's tally grew and the General was finally nominated, as Fillmore hoped, to head the Whig ticket.
Provenance: Joseph Rubinfine, 1984.