Abraham Lincoln to James Berdan, 22 July 18491Springfield, July 22. 1849James Berdan, Esq[Esquire]My dear Sir:
Last night I received a Washington letter from Mr John Addison, in which, among other things he says: “Lucas tells me this morning that Mr Butterfield was making very particular enquiries about our friend Berdan & expressed a wish to have his services in the Dept, remarking that he considered him one of the best land lawyers in the West &c[etc]. Would he like an appt[appointment]? I feel satisfied that he could obtain a good one if he applied”2
I took the precaution to withdraw the letters filed in my favor for Comr[Commissioner]; so that the very prety one you wrote for me, can not rise in judgment against you, if, indeed, being seen, it would affect Mr B’s feelings towards you–3 Now, my dear Sir, I do not know whether you have thought of going to Washington, or, if you have, whether my friendship would help or hurt you with Mr B; still I write this to put myself at your service in the matter, and to say I shall be pleased to act as you may desire–
Please write me by return mail4Your friend as everA. Lincoln5
Free.A Lincoln M, C[Member of Congress]SPRINGFIELD Ill.[Illinois]
FREEJames Berdan, EsqJacksonvilleIlls–
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter, including the address on the last image (which is of the sheet of paper folded to create an envelope).
2John Addison’s letter to Lincoln has not been located. However, in a July 22, 1849 letter to Addison, Lincoln promised to write this letter to James Berdan.
3Lincoln refers to his candidacy for the job of 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. In June 1849, President Zachary Taylor appointed Butterfield to the position. See the General Land Office Affair.
Immediately following Butterfield’s appointment, Lincoln wrote Secretary of the Interior Thomas Ewing and requested that all letters of recommendation and reference filed with the U.S. Department of the Interior pertaining to his candidacy for the position be returned to him. Ewing complied, returning all but three of the letters from Lincoln’s file. Berdan’s letter of recommendation, however, has not been located.
5Berdan’s name does not appear in the official registers of the officers and agents of the government for 1849, 1851, and 1853, so apparently he did not receive an appointment in the U.S. General Land Office.
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).
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Gilder Lehrman Collection (New York, New York).