Springfield, Illinois: S. Francis & Co., Printers, 1840. First edition. Removed pamphlet, 9.13 x 6.13 inches, 8 pages. Spine a little loose; old folds, old stains, soiling; a good copy. Item #20343
“It is no part of our present design to offer any comments upon these extracts, or to institute any comparisons between the principles developed in them and those which have been more recently declared by the new light politicians who now preside over the destinies of our country.” A rare Whig campaign pamphlet and an evidently unrecorded imprint from the press of Simeon Francis, publisher of the Sangamo Journal and a friend of Abraham Lincoln. This title not found in Byrd, nor in American Imprints, nor on OCLC, nor in the NUC. On its face, not much to look at and something an abstruse argument against the attempts of the Democrat to pass Van Buren’s independent Treasury bill against the background of the lingering economic hardships of the Panic of 1837 (and the hard currency policies of the administration), these compiled extracts from Jackson and his advisors on hard money and pet banks are here collected as evidence in an attack on Van Buren—but the pamphlet should also be read as a tandem publication to one of Lincoln’s own earliest political publications. The Whigs made Van Buren’s treasury bill one of the wedge issues prior to the 1840 presidential election, and the policy was subject of several vigorous debates between the Democrats and Whigs in Springfield in late 1839; per Pal M. Angle, “Four Lincoln Firsts.” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America. Vol. 36, First Quarter, 1942, “In Illinois, a century ago, politics centered at Springfield. There lived such aggressive leaders as Stephen A. Douglas, John Calhoun, John T. Stuart, E. D. Baker, and Abraham Lincoln. . . . In the fall of 1839, the time was ripe for political oratory. Martin Van Buren, in the White House, was unpopular, and the Whigs of Illinois were elated by the prospect of toppling him from what they pleased to call his throne. The President, however, had staunch defenders, unafraid to meet his critics in open argument. In November, when a number of leaders of both parties were brought together in Springfield by a court session, a nightly debate of nearly a week’s duration took place. A month later, after the opening of the biennial session of the legislature had brought the politicians together again, the performance was repeated. One of the Whig speakers on both occasions was Abraham Lincoln.” Lincoln’s speech against the subtreasury, delivered on December 26, proved sufficiently popular to be published as a Whig campaign pamphlet—the first known Lincoln speech to be published separately, and assumed by Byrd, Monaghan, et al. (without much evident curiosity about the identity of the printer) to be an 1840 Springfield imprint. Lincoln’s speech also appeared in Francis’s Sangamo Journal on March 6, 1840, and while textual evidence in other newspapers pretty clearly suggests the pamphlet edition precedes the Sangamo Journal publication, the enterprising bookseller would be remiss not to make at least a feint in the direction of the fact that this fugitive Whig attack on treasury policy is kindred to the Lincoln title, had been set on the same press, and might be read as something of a supplement to Lincoln’s efforts—the technical skeleton to Lincoln’s fleshed-out arguments. Terance A. (Terry) Tanner’s useful, “Some Corrections &c. to Cecil Byrd’s Bibliography of Illinois Imprints 1814-1858” (Hamill & Barker 2001, one of 30 copies and on this cataloger’s reference shelf thanks, we assume, to the late Dan Siegel) exhibits the curiosity that Byrd and Monaghan seemingly lacked, arguing that the Lincoln pamphlet (Byrd 540) “was undoubtedly printed in the office of the Springfield Sangamo Journal. On 13 March 1840 that paper advertised ‘Lincoln’s Speech and “Tippecanoe Almanacs,” to be disposed of, in quantities, at this office.’” Comparison of the typefaces and layout of this pamphlet to a digitized copy of the Lincoln address certainly supports Tanner’s suggestion that the press of Simeon Francis was the source for the Lincoln pamphlet as well as for this one. Examination of digital copies of the Sangamo Journal suggests ads for the speech in fact ran in the paper through 3 April 1840, and the Whig paper spent the rest of the summer beating the drum for Harrison and attacking the policies of Van Buren—including of course attacks on the independent Treasury bill, which passed in July. Ads for this pamphlet have not been noticed by this cataloger in the columns of that paper, but the search has not been exhaustive as we are but a member of the mercantile class and remain committed to leaving something on the table for actual bibliographers to accomplish. Contemporary ink autograph number at the head of the title, suggesting a nonce volume of at least 12 pamphlets; the answer to the question of whether the Lincoln speech had once been bound with kindred Francis productions is of course lost.