FILLMORE, Millard. Autograph letter signed (''Fillmore'') as Congressman, to Solomon G. Haven (1810-1861), Washington, D.C., 21 January 1840. 1 page, 4to (9 7/8 x 7 7/8 in.), integral address leaf, slight browning.
FILLMORE, Millard. Autograph letter signed ("Fillmore") as Congressman, to Solomon G. Haven (1810-1861), Washington, D.C., 21 January 1840. 1 page, 4to (9 7/8 x 7 7/8 in.), integral address leaf, slight browning.
ABOLITION, WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON AND THE ELECTION OF 1840: "THE WHOLE PEOPLE SEEM TO MOVE SPONTANEOUSLY"
An enticing letter in which Fillmore ponders the importance of the abolition movement upon the upcoming presidential election. Writing during his third term in Congress, Fillmore informs the future mayor of Buffalo of political developments in Washington: "The abolition question continues to occupy our House and the Sub-Treasury the Senate. Mr. [Nathaniel P.] Tallmadge is expected here to night. Should he come he will be in time to vote against the Sub-Treasury Bill." Fillmore, one of the founding members of the Whig Party in Western New York, expresses confidence in the party's presidential candidate: "It is really astonishing to see how Harrison's nomination goes. Our folks now speak with confidence of carrying N.C. Tenn. & Louisiana. In all of which we had much fears at first on account of this abolition question. In Ohio, Indiana and Illinois it seems like wild fire. The whole people seem to move spontaneously. Our friends here are all union and confidence. The Van B. men are evidently alarmed. They try to 'whistle to keep their courage up." The Whigs waged the first modern presidential campaign in American History and successfully catapulted Harrison into office with 234 electoral votes, winning every state noted by Fillmore with the exception of Illinois.
Fillmore's political career spanned a period when the issue of slavery had its deepest impact upon the nation. The "abolition question" infiltrated every presidential campaign after 1820 and it was of particular concern to the Whigs who were an amalgamation of diverse interest groups that could be divided by such an inflammatory topic. The Democratic Party was traditionally more receptive to pro-slavery interests which generated Fillmore's concern about the election in the southern states: "Southern political leaders demanded further pro-slavery pledges from their Northern allies, pledges that most Democrats were happy to provide" (Watson, Liberty and Power, p. 203). Ultimately, the slavery issue was overshadowed by economic concerns spawned from the Panic of 1837, which many had blamed upon Andrew Jackson's successful effort to dismantle the Second Bank of the United States. The Sub-Treasury Bill, or Independent Treasury Bill, was proposed by Van Buren as a temporary solution, but his political ties with Jackson bound him to the economic crisis in the minds of the voters and assured his ultimate defeat.