William Porter to Abraham Lincoln, 10 June 18491
Friend Lincoln.
As I wish to avoid any annoyance to you, while hastily making preparations for your departure, I take this mode of making known to you my wishes– On account of some private reasons, I am very anxious to have the appointment of Examinor of the Land Offices in the Western states, say some 4 or 5 or more– sufficient to occupy the summer & fall. It is an office perhaps not applied for yet– I wish to include Wisconsin & Iowa in my range, if I get it at all, and as many more as the department may see proper– You know my qualifications for it. If after that, you have a permanent place for me in your department, assuming that your appointment to the as Comr[Commissioner] as certain, I would accept it with pleasure– and have no doubt, that whatever it may be I am fully competent to the discharge of its duties. But if you have no place for me, I shall be content–
I am determined to go east very soon, perhaps in a week– If I do, I will wl write you in 4 or 5
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days from this time in which time I will know but, if you receive no letter from me in a week after your arrival at Washington, and there is any show for me, you may either write to me or telegraph to me here at my expense–2
It is sometimes advantageous to have a confidential clerk, to those persons holding important situations! and If such a one should be needed in your department, who knows but I may be an important personage for the situation– One thing I pledge myself to do. That whatever situation I may obtain all its duties shall be faithfully performed– I am capable of most any thing, though I say it myself, at least any thing I ^will^ undertake to do– Wishing you all success I hope soon to hear from you–3
Yours TrulyWm Porter
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Hon. A Lincoln Present
[ docketing ]
June 23d/49
Wm Porter for Examiner of Land offices in the Western States–
[ endorsement ]
The writer of this is a man of excellent bussiness qualifications, and particularly versed in the business of the Land offices– If he could get the job of examiner as he desires, I should be much gratified– I know no other applicant
A Lincoln4
1William Porter wrote and signed this letter. When Roy P. Basler, editor of The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, saw this letter in 1953, it was located in RG 48, Records of the Department of the Interior, but it was not found in a search of those records at the National Archives.
2Porter references the contest to see who would replace Richard M. Young as commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office. Justin H. Butterfield, James L. D. Morrison, and Cyrus Edwards were among the early contestants. Abraham Lincoln entered the competition after learning that Butterfield was favored over Morrison and Edwards.
Porter notes Lincoln’s preparations for a journey because Lincoln, at the urging of William H. Henderson and Josiah Lucas, Lincoln supporters living in Washington, DC, had decided to travel to the nation’s capital to personally lobby for the position. On June 9, Butterfield wrote Lincoln suggesting that neither go to Washington. Lincoln did not respond to this suggestion, and on June 10, both set out for the capital. Lincoln arrived on or before June 19. See the General Land Office Affair.
3Ultimately, neither Morrison, Edwards, nor Lincoln received the appointment; the job went to Butterfield instead. See the General Land Office Affair.
4Lincoln wrote and signed this endorsement.
Porter does not appear in the official registers of the officers and agents of the federal government for 1849 and 1851, so apparently he did not receive an appointment.
In July 1849, Secretary of the Interior Thomas Ewing wrote Lincoln that the Department of the Interior did not have the power to appoint examiners of the Land Offices, that power having been revoked in 1842 by federal statute.
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); 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); Thomas Ewing to Abraham Lincoln; Thomas Ewing to Abraham Lincoln.

Copy of Autograph Letter Signed, 3 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Association Files, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum [Springfield, IL].