In 1856, Democrat James Buchanan won the presidential election. He defeated Republican James C. Fremont with 174 electoral votes. Fremont garnered 114 and former president Millard Fillmore, who ran on the Know-Nothing ticket secured only eight electoral votes.
The nation was divided over the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which enabled the Nebraska territory to decide whether to enter the Union as a slave or a free state, thus reviving tensions over slavery, which many believed had been put to rest by the Compromise of 1850. Thus, the 1856 election was quite important.
In the letter offered here, Benj F. Pierce shares with “Friends at home” timely political discussions sharply expressed in and around the upcoming presidential election. 3 ½ pp, 7 ¾ x 9 ½, September 3d [n.y. listed, but 1856], Brighton [MA]. Pierce meets a slave owner from Alabama and discusses a straw vote taken for president among the passengers of the Steamboat he’s traveling on board.
He writes, “...After leaving Boston I arrived in Portland...and took a coach for the Steamboat...I called to Mrs. Otis’s and took tea after which I went on board the boat and in a few minutes started for B. The boat was very full that a great many had not even a good place to sit down during the night...We took a vote for President on board. The votes were for Fremont 103, Buchanan 33, Fillmore 5. The old hunkers were not very pleasant. There were quite a no. of Southerners, there one of whom a man and a slave holder from Alabama. I had a talk with him in the morning. I liked his talk better than I do any of the Northerners...I found S. Ricker and he helped me carry my trunk up to Chadbourn’s Store as it was not safe on the wharf...
“I called on Nelson...He knew of no situation for me. He showed me into the Mercantile Library and Reading Room where I have gone in most days to look at advertisements for help. I have called on most of the business houses in Boston...The men generally are very polite...”
On blue lined paper with folds and toning.
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