Abraham Lincoln to John Addison, 22 July 18491Springfield, Ills. July 22. 1849Dear Addison:
On the other half of this sheet is what I hope may be both satisfactory and serviceable to you–2 If any thing I have written for any body should be turned to your disadvantage, I could hardly ever forgive myself for the carelessness of so writing– Give my respects to my friends about you, particularly Lucas; and tell him I am truly glad he is at a good understanding with the new Commissioner–3 If letters have come to the Dept in my favor since the appointment, may they not be sent to me? I should like to see them– I have now about forty such, nineteen (I believe) of which are from M. C.’s[Members of Congress]4
I shall write Berdan to-day on the matter of which you speak concerning him– He is as much of a gentleman as lives–5Yours very trulyA. Lincoln–
JUL[July] 23John Addison, Esq[Esquire]Washington DC
FreeA Lincoln M.C[Member of Congress]
JUL[July] 23John Addison, Esq[Esquire]Washington DC
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter. The text of the letter is from the original autograph letter signed. The envelope is a photocopy of the original, which has not been found.
2Roy P. Basler, editor of The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, presumed Lincoln was referring here to a letter of recommendation which John Addison tore off from this letter and used for his purposes. The original letter, however, shows no evidence of a portion being torn off, and Lincoln’s supposed letter of recommendation for Addison has not been located, so it is impossible to verify Basler’s assertion.
No letter from Addison to Lincoln in the months of May through July 1849 has been located; therefore, some of the context for this letter is missing.
3President Zachary Taylor appointed Justin H. Butterfield commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office in June 1849, following a lengthy competition for the position against James L. D. Morrison, Cyrus Edwards, and, eventually, Lincoln. See the General Land Office Affair.
Josiah M. Lucas, who held a temporary position as a clerk in the U.S. General Land Office during the affair, supported Lincoln in the competition for the appointment. After Butterfield won the appointment, Lucas wrote Lincoln, concerned that Butterfield might not retain him as a clerk. In a November 1849 letter to Lucas, Lincoln wrote that he was glad Secretary of the Interior Thomas Ewing had “sustained” Lucas in his position. Yet Lucas’ name does not appear in the official register of the officers and agents of the government employed as of September 30, 1849, nor does it appear in the official register for 1851. His name is listed, however, in the official registers for 1853, 1855, and 1857 as a clerk in the U.S. General Land Office.
Abraham Lincoln to George W. Crawford; Josiah M. Lucas to Abraham Lincoln; Josiah M. Lucas to Abraham Lincoln; Josiah M. Lucas to Abraham Lincoln; Josiah M. Lucas to Abraham Lincoln; Josiah M. Lucas to Abraham Lincoln; 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); Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1853 (Washington, DC: Robert Armstrong, 1853), 134; Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1855 (Washington, DC: A. O. P. Nicholson, 1855), 78; Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1857 (Washington, DC: A. O. P. Nicholson, 1857), 79.
4Lincoln wrote Ewing June 22, 1849, requesting that all letters of recommendation and reference filed with the U.S. Department of the Interior pertaining to his candidacy for commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office be returned to him. Ewing complied, returning all but three of the letters from Lincoln’s file. Lincoln suspected that letters by Richard W. Thompson and Elisha Embree were purposefully omitted by someone at the Department of the Interior in order to give Butterfield an advantage over him in the competition for the job. However, he later wrote John Addison that his loyalty to both Taylor and “the great whig cause” induced him to remain silent about his suspicions.
Eventually, on April 22, 1850, the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives formed a committee under William A. Richardson to investigate Ewing’s role in and handling of patronage appointments as well as his management of pension payments and Department of the Interior accounts. On June 8, 1850, the New York Herald reported that Butterfield’s appointment as commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office was one patronage appointment that the Richardson Committee was investigating, particularly with regard to letters missing from the file on Lincoln that was shown to President Taylor prior to Taylor selecting the final appointee. However, when the Committee filed its final reports on September 4-7, 1850, it made no finding regarding Butterfield’s appointment. The Whig-controlled U.S. Senate also exonerated Ewing of all charges, although suspicions remained in some Whig circles that Ewing had indeed suppressed letters of recommendation from Lincoln’s file.
Thomas Ewing to Abraham Lincoln; Abraham Lincoln to Thomas Ewing; Thomas Ewing to Abraham Lincoln; Abraham Lincoln to Thomas Ewing; Cong. Globe, 31st Cong., 1st Sess., Appendix, 1209-37 (1850); Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:304; Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1996 (Alexandria, VA: CQ Staff Directories, 1997), 1729; Paul I. Miller, “Lincoln and the Governorship of Oregon,” The Mississippi Valley Historical Review 23 (December 1936), 393-94; The New York Herald (NY), 8 June 1850, 3:5.
5Lincoln wrote James Berdan the same day as this letter, informing him that Butterfield was interested in giving him an appointment in the U.S. General Land Office.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Gilder Lehrman Collection (New York, New York).