In the summer of 1846, Abraham Lincoln was a Whig candidate for a seat in the US Congress. He was competing against Democratic nominee Peter Cartwright, a well-known Methodist minister who had been one of the earlier settlers of Sangamon County. Despite national attention on the Mexican War, this local race seemed to focus on more personal issues, such as Lincoln's apparently unorthodox religious beliefs. In this handbill, distributed to voters and published in local newspapers (both before and AFTER the election, at Lincoln's insistence), candidate Lincoln denied that he was an "open scoffer at Christianity" but admitted that he was not a church member and that he had once argued privately for a kind of deistic fatalism, what he called the "Doctrine of Necessity." The explosive charges did not prevent Lincoln from defeating Cartwright and securing a term in Congress. (By Matthew Pinsker)
"Handbill Replying to Charges of Infidelity," in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (8 vols., New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 1: 383, http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/.
Voters of the Seventh Congressional District of Illinois
Transcription adapted from The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953), edited by Roy P. Basler
Adapted by Matthew Pinsker, Dickinson College