Abraham Lincoln to Thomas Ewing, 22 June 18491Washington, June 22. 1849Hon: Secretary of the Interior.Dear Sir:
This morning, on my mention- . . . you,2 I had an intimation my old friend, Cyrus Edwards, had placed on file something ill-natured against me, you had the kindness, as I remember, to volunteer the remark, in my defence, that but for my devotion to Mr Edwards, manifested by withholding my own name for his benefit, I would now, in your opinion, be the commissioner–3 If, in this, my memory serves me correctly, you will greatly oblige me, by saying as much on paper, with anything additional to the same point, which may occur to you– It will enable me, I think, to remove from the mind of one of my most highly valued friends, a bad impression, which is now the only thing much painful to me personally, in this whole matter–4Your Obt Servt[Obedient Servant]A. Lincoln
2The text is illegible between “mention” and “you.” Roy P. Basler rendered it “mentioning to.” Thomas F. Schwartz followed Basler, but placed “ing to” in brackets. The editors have chosen not to follow Basler and Schwartz, but to render it “mention- you,” with an gap tag/element between “mention” and “you” to indicate missing text.
Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1990), 11:2; Thomas F. Schwartz, "Lincoln's Published Writings: A History & Supplement," Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association 9 (1987), 44.
3This is a reference to the competition over who would replace Richard M. Young as commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office. Originally, only Justin H. Butterfield, James L. D. Morrison, and Cyrus Edwards were vying to become commissioner. Lincoln entered the competition after learning that Butterfield was favored over Morrison and Edwards. Lincoln also received correspondence informing him that Edwards had withdrawn himself as a candidate so that Lincoln could enter the competition and defeat Butterfield. See the General Land Office Affair.
Supporters of each candidate sent letters of reference and recommendation to both President Zachary Taylor and Secretary of the Interior Thomas Ewing. Although the U.S. Department of the Interior oversaw the U.S. General Land Office, President Taylor was ultimately responsible for appointing the commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office. In a letter to Joseph Gillespie in July 1849, Lincoln wrote that he was aware Edwards wrote a letter in support of Butterfield and filed it with the Department of the Interior. Lincoln had additional correspondence with Ewing on the topic of letters sent to the Department of the Interior in support of his qualifications for the position.
4Lincoln refers to Edwards, who was offended with Lincoln in connection with the General Land Office Affair. Neither Morrison, Edwards, nor Lincoln received the appointment; the job went to Butterfield instead. See the General Land Office Affair. Ewing replied to this letter June 23, 1849.
Copy of Autograph Letter Signed, 1 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Association Files, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).