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[docketing]
08/29/1849
Rec'd[Received] 29 Augt.
[docketing]
Mr Fisher
Abraham Lincoln to John M. Clayton, 21 August 18491
Hon: J. M. Clayton,Secretary of State.Dear Sir:
Your letter of the 10th Inst, notifying me of my appointment as Secretary of the Teritory of Oregon, and accompanied by a Commission, has been duly received–2 I respectfully decline the office–
I shall be greatly obliged if the place be offered to Simeon Francis, of this place– He will accept it, is capable, and would be faithful in the discharge of it’s duties– He is the principal editor of the oldest, and what I think may be fairly called, the leading Whig paper of the ^state^— the Illinois Journal. His good bussiness habits are proved by the facts, that the paper has existed eighteen years, all the time weekly, and part of it, tri-weekly, and daily, and has not failed to issue regularly in a single instance–
Some time in May last, I think, Mr Francis addressed a letter to Mr Ewing, which, I was informed while at Washington in June, had been seen by the cabinet, and very highly approved– You possibly may remember it– He has, for a long time desired to go to Oregon; and I think his appointment would give general satisfaction3
Your Obt Servt[Obedient Servant]A. Lincoln
<Page 2>
FREE
SPRINGFIELD Ill.[Illinois]
AUG [August]22
Hon: Secretary of StateWashingtonD.C.[District of Columbia]
[docketing]
09/25/1849
Secretary of Oregon
Simeon Francis recomd[recommended]
Entd[Entered] Sep. 25, 1849
Geo P. Fisher
Con Clk[Confidential Clerk]4
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter, including the address on the last sheet, which was folded to create an envelope.
2John M. Clayton’s August 10, 1849 letter to Lincoln has not been located. However, President Zachary Taylor appointed Lincoln secretary of the Territory of Oregon August 9, 1849. Lincoln received this appointment less than a month after Taylor appointed Justin H. Butterfield commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office, a position Lincoln had sought after learning that Butterfield was favored for the job. See the General Land Office Affair. As Lincoln explained in a May 16, 1849 letter to William B. Preston, he believed the appointment of Butterfield to such a valuable patronage position would represent an affront to the Illinois Whigs who had worked so hard to get Taylor nominated and elected president. Many Illinois Whigs were indeed upset by Butterfield’s appointment and criticized both President Taylor and Secretary of the Interior Thomas Ewing. The administration hoped that by offering Lincoln the position of secretary of the Oregon Territory, it would appease any angry Illinois Whigs and prevent additional attacks upon Butterfield’s appointment.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:306-7.
3Lincoln wrote Clayton several more times on this topic. In one letter in September 1849, he indicates Clayton somehow did not receive this letter declining the position. Other Whigs in Springfield and the surrounding area also wrote Clayton to recommend Simeon Francis for the position in Lincoln’s stead. In the end, Taylor appointed Edward Hamilton of Ohio secretary of the Oregon Territory.
On September 20, 1849, in a final effort to ease any tensions caused by Butterfield’s appointment, the Taylor administration also offered Lincoln appointment as governor of the Oregon Territory. After serious consideration of this offer, Lincoln also turned this position down, at least in part because Mary Lincoln had no desire to live in such a remote location. Taylor appointed John P. Gaines of Virginia governor of the Oregon Territory instead.
Francis’ name does not appear in the official registers of the officers and agents of the government for 1849, 1851, 1853, 1855, 1857, or 1859, so apparently, he did not receive any other appointment during this period. The 1861 official register shows Francis worked in Oregon as a printer for the U.S. government and as a paymaster for the U.S. Army. In July 1861, he also wrote Lincoln requesting appointment as commissioner of Indian Affairs. Francis did not receive this appointment, but, by 1863, he was a paymaster in Oregon.
Abraham Lincoln to John M. Clayton; Abraham Lincoln to John M. Clayton; Abraham Lincoln to Thomas Ewing; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:307; 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), 250; 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); 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); 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); Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1859 (Washington, DC: William A. Harris, 1859); Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1861 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1862), 118, 199; Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1863 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1864), 151; Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1865 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1866), 193.
4George P. Fisher wrote and signed this endorsement.

Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), RG 59, Entry 760: Appointment Records, Applications and Recommendations for Office, Applications and Recommendations for Public Office, 1797-1901, NACP.