, Letter, , Sangamon Co., IL, to JS and “associates,” , 6 Jan. 1840. Featured version copied [between Apr. and June 1840] in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 94–95; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 2.
On 6 January 1840, wrote a letter from , Illinois, to JS and his associates in in response to a letter JS sent him on 19 December 1839. Weber, a furniture manufacturer who moved to Springfield from Shepherdstown, Virginia, in 1836, was lobbying the legislature to explicitly instruct the state’s delegates in the Congress to vote in favor of the ’s petition for redress and reparations. In his letter, Weber reported on the state legislators’ initial response to the church’s case and on the obstacles that partisan politics presented to his efforts. The reason for and extent of Weber’s influence with state legislators are unclear, but it appears that he was a Democrat.
It is unknown how sent this letter to JS and when JS received it. Correspondence from usually arrived in in about three weeks, but some letters—such as JS’s 19 December letter to Weber—arrived much faster. JS likely received Weber’s letter in mid- to late January. Weber’s original letter is apparently not extant. entered the version featured here into JS Letterbook 2 between April and June 1840.
Your letter of the 19th ult came to hand ten days after date, immediately after which, I called in many of the prominent members of the Democratick party, with a view to unite them and their influence in your behalf; all of which expressed a willingness to aid in bringing about justice.
But, I regret to inform you that but few have exhibited that energy in the matter which might reasonably be expected from all lovers of liberty and advocates of equal rights.
Your energetick friends were first of the opinion that an effort ought to be made by our Legislature to memorialize our Reppresentatives in Congress to use all honorable means to accomplish your desires; But after holding a consultation it was believed that such a course would create a party strife here, and consequently opperate against you in Congress; Therefore it was agreed that as many as had friends in Congress should write to them immediately, desiring their aid in your behalf. If convenient, you will please write again [p. 94]
The nature of the potential party strife to which Weber referred is unclear. He may have meant that not all Democrats in Illinois would support redress for the church and that sending a memorial to the Illinois congressional delegation would cause a division within the state’s Democratic Party. He could have been referring, however, to the ongoing political divide between Whigs and Democrats over the ideal balance of state and federal power. This divide impacted politics nationally as well as in individual states, including Illinois. Because not all members of the Illinois General Assembly were officially affiliated with either the Democrats or the Whigs, it is unknown precisely how far this partisan divide extended in that legislative body. However, the Democrats appear to have held a slight edge in numbers over their Whig counterparts at this time, even though the Whigs in Illinois had experienced increased success in the previous election. (Thompson, “Illinois Whigs before 1846,” chaps. 2–3; Pease, Illinois Election Returns, 1818–1848, xliv, 307–330; see also Howe, What Hath God Wrought, chap. 13.)
Thompson, Charles Manfred. “The Illinois Whigs before 1846.” University of Illinois Studies in the Social Sciences 4, no. 1 (Mar. 1915): 9–150. Simultaneously published as University of Illinois Bulletin 12, no. 31 (5 Apr. 1915).