Abraham Lincoln to Joshua F. Speed, 20 February 18491Washington, Feb: 20. 1849.Dear Speed:
Your letter of the 13th was received yesterday— I showed it to Baker— I did this because he knew I had written you, and was expecting an answer; and ^he^ still enquired what I had received; so that I could not well keep it a secret— Besides this, I knew the contents of the letter would not affect him as you seemed to think it would— He knows he did not make a favorable impression while in Congress, and he and I had talked it over frequently— He tells me to write you that he has too much self-esteem to be put out of humor with himself by the opinion of any man who does not know him better than Mr Crittenden does; and that he thinks you ought to have known it. The letter will not affect him the least in regard to either Mr Crittenden or you— He understands you to have acted the part of a discreet friend; and he intends to make Mr Crittenden think better of him hereafter.2 I am flattered to learn that Mr Crittenden has any
<Page 2>recollection of me which is not unfavorable; and for the manifestation of your kindness towards me, I sincerely thank you. Still there is nothing about me which would authorize me to think of a first class office; and a second class one would not compensate me for being snarled at by others who want it for themselves— I believe that, so far as the whigs in Congress, are concerned, I could have the Genl Land office almost by common consent; but then Sweet, and Don: Morrison, and Browning, and Cyrus Edwards all want it. And what is worse, which I think I could easily take it myself, I fear I shall have trouble to get it for any other man in Illinois— The reason is, that McGaughey, an Indiana ex-member of Congress is here after it; and being personally known, he will be hard to beat by any one who is not—3
Baker showed me your letter, in which you make a passing allusion to the Louisville Post–office—4 I have told Garnett Duncan I am for you—5 I like to open a letter of yours, and I therefore hope you will write me again on the receipt of this—
Give my love, to Mrs Speed—Yours as everA. Lincoln
<Page 3>P. S. I have not read the Frankfort papers this winter; and consequently do not know whether you have made a speech— If you have, and it has been printed send me a copy—A. L.
2In his letter of February 13, Speed noted his wish to write Lincoln in “strict confidence” concerning his actions to perhaps secure Lincoln a job in the incoming Taylor administration--a topic that was the subject of the letter which Lincoln wrote Speed, which has not been found. Speed was worried about Edward D. Baker’s response because he had elicited John J. Crittenden’s views on Lincoln, Baker, and other Illinois men, and apparently Crittenden did not think highly of Baker. Speed did not want to crush Baker’s hopes for a position.
3In the spring and summer of 1849, Lincoln would become embroiled in a hotly contested race to become commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office. See the General Land Office Affair.
5Speed did not get the post; Thomas J. Reid was postmaster of Louisville from 1846 to 1850.
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), 326; Register of all Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1849 (Washington, DC: Gideon, 1849), 377; Register of all Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1851 (Washington, DC: Gideon, 1851), 416.
Autograph Letter Signed, 3 page(s), Fogg Collection, v. 46, Maine Historical Society (Portland, ME)