Early Political, Religious, and Other Americana from David Lesser Antiquarian Books
Item 15 is an 1848 political call from Virginia Whig John Minor Botts to nominate Henry Clay for the presidency, not his fellow delegates' preference, General Zachary Taylor. Botts argues that Clay, the Whigs' losing candidate in 1844, represents Whig principles, while Taylor stands for nothing discernable. Precisely. That's why the Whigs nominated him. He was hard to criticize as he took as few positions as possible. Being a hero of the Mexican War, he was a perfect candidate for the Whigs who lost political favor because of their reluctance to support this war. As 1848 was the year in which slavery began to arise as the major political issue, Taylor was ideal as he could imply pro-slavery sentiments in the South, anti-slavery sentiments in the North, without ever really committing himself. Taylor was nominated and swept to an easy victory, but no Whig would ever be elected again as that issue would soon tear the party apart. Botts' pamphlet is headed To the Whole Wig Party of the United States, and it was universally ignored. $250.
The total collapse of the Whigs can be seen in this 1855 or 1856 broadside from Philadelphia, Circular of Whig Committee with Ticket. In this piece the Whigs' Executive Committee explains to its members why it is endorsing the candidates of the nativist American Party, also known as the "Know-Nothings." The Whigs separate themselves from the nativist, anti-Catholic sentiments of the Know-Nothings, but point to their support of the "freemen" of Kansas. The Know-Nothings, perhaps somewhat oddly, were, for the most part, opponents of slavery, and opposed the violence of pro-slavery forces in Kansas, something the Democrats managed to effectively ignore. Item 135. $375.
David M. Lesser Fine Antiquarian Books has a website at www.lesserbooks.com and may be reached by phone at 203-389-8111.