24. Seventh Congressional District Election Returns (1846)

Background: There were seven U.S. Congressional districts in Illinois in 1846 and the Seventh District was the only one with a comfortably safe voter majority for Whig candidates. Consequently, competition among Whig politicians could be rather fierce in the Seventh and to preserve party unity they cut a deal that rotated the party's nomination among them. In 1842, John J. Hardin was the Whig candidate for Congress and in 1844 Edward Baker had the honors. In 1846, it was Abraham Lincoln's turn to carry the Whig mantle. Lincoln would serve one term in Congress but his opposition to the Mexican War was unpopular in his district. Per the gentlemen's agreement, the Whig Party did not re-nominate Lincoln for re-election. However, Lincoln's opposition to the Mexican War proved to be a large issue in the campaign and the Whig nominee, Lincoln's former law partner Stephen T. Logan, lost the seat in a close election.

The Document: This document is part of the official state election returns kept in ledger books by the Illinois Secretary of State's office. Abraham Lincoln ran against the Democratic candidate Peter Cartwright, a well-known Methodist minister and revivalist who admired the populism espoused by former President Andrew Jackson. Cartwright tried to make an issue during the campaign by questioning Lincoln's dedication to being a God-fearing Christian. Lincoln admitted he was not a follower of a certain denomination. In the end, it was possible Cartwright's gambit backfired, as some constituents did not enjoy Cartwright's mixing of religion and politics. It was also possible voters did not like Cartwright's strong anti-liquor views. Either way, Lincoln won handily, 6,340 votes to Cartwright's 4,829. Elihue Walcot, running as an anti-slavery Liberty Party candidate, also received some votes.

Note: These election returns are available at the Illinois State Archives as part of Secretary of State Record Series 103.033, "Record of Election Returns."