In 1848 Abraham Lincoln came to the northeast to campaign for the candidacy of Zachary Taylor for the office of President of the United States. Taylor's nomination was unpopular in New England and had divided the Whig Party, driving many of its members to the Free Soil Party. Many New Englanders were upset with the national Whig Party's support of the annexation of Texas with the growth of power in the South and the increase of slave-holding territory. Zachary Taylor was known for his military career, with recent experience in the war with Mexico, and he owned a Louisiana plantation where he owned over 100 slaves. In retrospect it is ironic that Lincoln came north to stump for Taylor's election. In order to win, the Massachusetts Whigs needed all the help they could get, and a procession of speakers visited the state, from the famous to the hardly known. Lincoln was one of the obscure.
Lincoln came for the Whig state convention held in Worcester in September, 1848. His speech there was well received as were those he gave in other towns: New Bedford, Boston, Lowell, Dorchester, Chelsea, Dedham, Cambridge, Taunton, and again in Boston.
Lincoln returned to Boston from Lowell on September 18th, stopping just long enough to arrange a carriage to Dorchester for the speech he was to give at 8 o'clock in the evening. The Boston newspapers ran an advertisement that "The Hon. Abram [sic] Lincoln, of Illinois, and the Hon. George Lunt, of Boston, will address the citizens of Dorchester on Monday evening next, Sept. 18th, at Richmond Hall." Richmond Hall was at the corner of Washington Street and Churchill Place near Lower Mills. The building, which still stands*, has become a private residence. Lincoln spent the night at Nathaniel Safford's house at the corner of Washington and Morton Streets. This building has been demolished.
On September 19th, the Boston Courier reported a full and enthusiastic meeting, and this was the only newspaper account of Lincoln's appearance in Dorchester. Lincoln traveled to Chelsea where he spoke on the 19th.
Lincoln's trip to Massachusetts gave him the opportunity to become known as an engaging speaker, and the favorable notices in the newspapers helped to increase his fame where he had before been little known.
Hanna, William F. Abraham among the Yankees. Taunton, Massachusetts: The Old Colony Historical Society, 1983.
*1111 Washington Street.
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Created: November 28, 2003 Modified: February 19, 2007