Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 2.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
highlight hits: on | off

Editorial on the Right of Foreigners to Vote [1]

July 23, 1856

What's in the Wind?

In the Buchanan paper [2] of this city, we saw yesterday morning, a labored communication, to prove that foreigners, who have not been naturalized, according to the laws of the United States, even though they resided here previous to the adoption of our new Constitution, cannot legally vote for Presidential electors.

This is a grave error, and we presume the writer was led into it by assuming, that none but a citizen of the United States can vote for Electors: whereas, the U.S. Constitution expressly provides, that ``Each State may appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of Electors equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress;'' . . Art. Sec 2.

Our Legislature has directed, that unnaturalized foreigners, who were here before the adoption of our late State Constitution, shall,Page  356 in common with others, vote for and appoint Presidential Electors. There is no room for cavil in this: The whole is left to the State Legislature. The Legislature needs not to use voters at all as instruments in the appointment of Electors. So well is this understood everywhere, that several of the States heretofore appointed their Electors directly by the Legislatures; and we believe South Carolina does so yet.

Let not this class of foreigners be alarmed. Our Legislature has directed that they may vote for Electors; and the U.S. Constitution has expressly authorized the Legislature to make that direction.

But, what's in the wind? Why are Mr. Buchanan's friends anxious to deprive foreigners of their votes? We pause for an answer.

Annotation

[1]   Galena Weekly North-Western Gazette, July 29, 1856. Across the top of the first page of this issue in the files of the Gazette is written in pencil, ``The editorial headed `What's in the Wind,' was written by Abraham Lincoln. H. H. Houghton.'' Houghton was editor and proprietor of the Gazette, and this signed statement is the basis for inclusion of the editorial. The editorial appeared first in the Galena Daily Advertiser, July 23, which was the daily published by Houghton.

[2]   The Galena Courier.

highlight hits: on | off