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Abraham Lincoln to Joseph Gillespie, 19 May 18491
Dear Gillespie:
Butterfield will be Commissioner of the Genl Land Office, unless prevented by strong and speedy efforts–2 Ewing is for him; and he is only not appointed yet because Old Zach hangs fire–3 I have reliable information of this–4 Now, if you agree with me, that his appointment would dissatisfy, rather than gratify the whigs of this state; that it would slacken their energies in future contests, that his appointment in /41[1841] is an old sore with them which they will not patiently have re-opened—5 in a word, that his appointment now would be a fatal blunder to the administration, and our political ruin here in Ills– write Mr Crittenden to that effect– He can control the matter– Were you to write Ewing, I fear the President would never hear of your letter– This may be mere suspicion– You might write directly to Old Zach; you will be the judge of the propriety of that– Not a moment's time is to be lost– Let this be confidential, except with Mr Edwards & a few others, whom you know I would trust just as I do you–6
Yours as everA. Lincoln
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter.
2Justin H. Butterfield, James L. D. Morrison, and Cyrus Edwards were vying to become commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office. See the General Land Office Affair.
3In this context, to “hang fire” means “to hesitate, to waver, to be slow.”
The Encyclopaedic Dictionary (London: Cassell, 1884), 4:119.
4There is evidence that Josiah M. Lucas and others were working to convince President Zachary Taylor to defer the appointment for commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office until the case for Lincoln as commissioner could be heard. And in July 1849, in another letter to Joseph Gillespie in which Lincoln reflected on the General Land Office Affair, Lincoln wrote that he learned by telegraph in early June 1849 that “the cabinet had postponed the appointment three weeks for my benefit.”
5In May 1841, Butterfield received appointment as district attorney of the District of Illinois. He retained the job until January 1845.
Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 7 May 1841, 2:7; 2 January 1845, 3:4; Register of all Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, from the Thirtieth September, 1841, to the Thirtieth September, 1843 (Washington, DC: J. & G. S. Gideon, 1843), 257.
6Late in the spring of 1849, Lincoln offered himself as a candidate for commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office after learning that Butterfield was favored over Morrison and Edwards. Neither Morrison, Edwards, nor Lincoln received the appointment; the job went to Butterfield instead. See the General Land Office Affair.

Autograph Letter Signed, 1 page(s), Lincoln Collection, Brown University (Providence, RI).