Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 1.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
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Remarks in Illinois Legislature Concerning Election Frauds [1]

November 28, 1840

Mr. Lincoln said without granting for a moment the truth of any of the gentleman's charges and surmises, from Gallatin yet he was willing for the purposes of his Resolution, to assume that all these stupendous frauds of which the gentleman had been speaking, had been committed; and if so it showed the necessity of the adoption of the Resolution offered by himself. If it was a fact that Legislative action was necessary to protect the elective franchise from abuse in this state, he was willing to go as far as any,---and to provide any punishment within the bounds of humanity, for those who could abuse such a right → . It was for that reason he had submitted his resolution. He was afraid of no investigation that might → be instituted into the recent election in this state, for himself or his friends. But he could see no good that could result from such an investigation as that proposed by the gentleman. He had every reason to believe that all this hue and cry about frauds, was entirely groundless, and raised for other than honest purposes.

Page  213As to the instance which the gentleman had given of the Steamboat on the Wabash river, [2] he would state that he was near the Wabash at the time and place mentioned by the gentleman, and after making diligent inquiry for a Steam Boat, could hear of none. Again, he believed as much fraud had been charged to have taken place in Sangamon county as any where else---he was willing for the purpose of testing the truth and character of these charges, that a special investigation should be instituted into the election in this county, that every vote should be scrutinized and the result, what ever it might be should be taken as conclusive as to whether these charges were well founded or not. This investigation would cost the State but little;---it would be here, where we had every facility for enquiring into the facts, without expense, and here too where the greatest frauds are alleged to have been perpetrated, and surely no gentleman who was honest in the belief of these frauds, could object to the proposition.

Annotation

[1]   Quincy Whig, December 12, 1840. These remarks occurred during the debate on Lincoln's resolution (vide supra), which John A. McClernand of Gallatin County moved to strike out and replace with a somewhat different resolution.

[2]   One of several instances of election fraud narrated by McClernand concerned a steamboat which plied up and down the Wabash voting a large number of people at various towns.

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