Abraham Lincoln to Jonathan R. Diller, 19 January 18481Washington Jany 19. 1848Friend Diller:
Your letter of the 27th Decr[December] was received only the day before yesterday–2 The very best I can do with your case, I will– Send to me just as soon as you can, the affidavit of one of your clerks, showing the number of mails you receive per week; the number you send away per week; the number of pounds weight of mails you handle daily, besides that stopping at your own office; the number of hands, including yourself, you have to constantly employ; and what you pay them; how many hours out of the twentyfour you are obliged to be up and at work; and how much you have to pay annually, besides clerk-hire, for matters matters connected with the office, which the Govt[Government] does not allow you for– Whether Govt allows for room-rent, candles, and fuel, I dont know; but if it does not, these will fall in the item last mentioned– If, in this way you can show that your compensation is too small, I think I can get it increased; but the bare fact that you get
<Page 2>less than you used to do, will not enable me to get along– We have had one such case, which was sneered out of court– I am really interested for you, & wish you to lose no time in doing as I tell you– Show this letter to Logan, and get him to frame the affidavit—adding any thing that may occur to you or him which I may have forgotten–3
Tell Hickox I received his claim, and will do the best with it can;4 but that I fear I can not get along with it–5
I am kept very busy here; and one thing that perplexes me more than most any thing else, are the cases of whigs calling on me to get them appointments to places in the army, from the President– There are two great obstacles in the way which they do not seem to understand—first, the President has no such appointments to give—and secondly, if he had, he could hardly be expected to give them to whigs, at the solicitation of a whig Member of Congress–Yours trulyA. Lincoln
3Diller was postmaster of Springfield, Illinois, from January 1845 to April 1849. Diller perhaps contacted Lincoln about his compensation because the latter was a member of the House Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads.
For the period of July 1, 1844 to June 30, 1845, the Springfield post office had net proceeds of $3,417.91, with the postmasters receiving $1,340.55. During Diller’s tenure from January 15 to June 30, 1845, the office had net proceeds of $1,607.12, and Diller’s compensation was $609.13. The net proceeds of Diller’s office from July 1, 1846 to June 30, 1847, was $1,994.02, with Diller receiving $1,169.76.
Cong. Globe, 3oth Cong., 1st Sess., 19 (1848); Register of all Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1845 (Washington, DC: J. & G. S. Gideon, 1845), 396*; Register of all Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1847 (Washington, DC: J. & G. S. Gideon, 1847), 424*; Records of the Post Office Department, Records of the Bureau of the First Assistant Postmaster General, Records of the Division of Postmasters, Records of Appointment of Postmasters, 1845-1855, 18:172, National Archives Building, Washington, DC.
5Hickox’s claim has not been located. Hickox could not be positively identified. Roy P. Basler, editor of The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, suggested that it was most likely Virgil Hickox, but without attribution.
Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 1:445.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Box 3, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).