Letter to Friends in Illinois, 20 December 1841

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

City of , Illinois,
December 20th, A. D. 1841.
To my friends in :—
The Gubernatorial Convention of the State of have nominated Colonel for GOVERNOR, and Colonel for LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR of the State of —election to take place in August next. , like , and , was an intimate friend of long before that gentleman became a member of our community; and informs us that no men were more efficient in assisting him to procure our great chartered privileges than were , and .— They are sterling men, and friends of equal rights—opposed to the oppressor’s grasp, and the tyrant’s rod. With such men at the head of our State Government we have nothing to fear. In the next canvass we shall be influenced by no party consideration—and no Carthagenian coalescence or collusion, with our people, will be suffered to affect, or operate against, or any other of our tried friends already semi-officially in the field; so the partizans in this who expect to divide the friends of humanity and equal rights will find themselves mistaken—we care not a fig for Whig or Democrat: they are both alike to us; but we shall go for our friends, our tried friends, and the cause of human liberty which is the cause of God. We are aware that “divide and conquer” is the watch-word with many, but with us it cannot be done—we love liberty too well—we have suffered too much to be easily duped—we have no cat’s-paws amongst us. We voted for General [William Henry] Harrison because we loved him—he was a gallant officer and a tried statesman; but this is no reason why we should always be governed by his friends—he is now dead, and all of his friends are not ours. We claim the privileges of freemen, and shall act accordingly. is a Master Spirit, and his friends are our friends—we are willing to cast our banners on the air, and fight by his side in the cause of humanity, and equal rights—the cause of liberty and the law. , and , are his friends—they are ours. These men are free from the prejudices and superstitions of the age, and such men we love, and such men will ever receive our support, be their political predilections what they may. , and , are known to be our friends; their friendship is vouched for by those whom we have tried. We will never be justly charged with the sin of ingratitude—they have served us, and we will serve them.
Lieutenant-General of the . [p. 651]


  1. 1

    After the Illinois legislature appointed him to the Illinois Supreme Court in February 1841, Douglas visited Nauvoo in May and was given “freedom of the city.” In June 1841, when Missouri officials were attempting to extradite JS to Missouri, Douglas presided over JS’s habeas corpus hearing in Monmouth, Illinois, and ruled in his favor by declaring the writ against him dead and no longer actionable. (Letter to the Editors, 6 May 1841; “The Late Proceedings,” Times and Seasons, 15 June 1841, 2:447–449.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  2. 2

    Warren was a partner in the Quincy, Illinois, firm Ralston, Warren & Wheat and was also part of the legal team that defended JS during the June 1841 habeas corpus hearing in Monmouth, Illinois. In August 1841 Warren wrote a letter to JS offering to sell property in nearby Warsaw to the church. (History of Adams County, Illinois, 707; JS History, vol. C-1, 1205; Letter from Calvin A. Warren, 31 Aug. 1841.)  

    The History of Adams County, Illinois. Containing a History of the County—Its Cities, Towns, Etc. . . . Chicago: Murray, Williamson, and Phelps, 1879.

  3. 3

    JS was likely referencing the Anti-Mormon Convention in Illinois. Initially comprising Warsaw residents, the political group convened its first convention in Carthage on 28 June 1841, where it selected candidates for the August 1841 election. (“Anti-Mormon Meeting,” Warsaw [IL] Signal, 23 June 1841, [3]; “To the Citizens of Hancock County,” and “Anti-Mormon Nominations,” Warsaw Signal, 21 July 1841, [3].)  

    Warsaw Signal. Warsaw, IL. 1841–1853.

  4. 4

    A cat’s paw is a “person used as a tool by another to accomplish a purpose.” The term derives from Jean de La Fontaine’s fable “The Monkey and the Cat.” (“Cat’s paw,” in Oxford English Dictionary, 2:189; Shapiro, Complete Fables of Jean de La Fontaine, 254–255.)  

    Oxford English Dictionary. Compact ed. 2 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971.

    Shapiro, Norman R., trans. The Complete Fables of Jean de La Fontaine. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007.

  5. 5

    In the 1840 election Hancock County residents voted overwhelmingly for Harrison, who was the Whig presidential candidate, and for the Whig candidate for the state legislature. Harrison took office on 4 March 1841 but died one month later, after contracting pneumonia. (Pease, Illinois Election Returns, 1818–1848, 117, 346.)  

    Pease, Theodore Calvin, ed. Illinois Election Returns, 1818–1848. Springfield, Illinois: Illinois State Historical Library, 1923.