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[docketing]
09/20/1849
Rec'd[Received] 20 Septr
Abraham Lincoln to John M. Clayton, 12 September 18491
Hon: Secretary of StateDear Sir:
You perceive the object of the inclosed paper–2 I personally know Majr Fellows to be worthy of either of the offices mentioned– The signers of the paper are of the "tip top" whigs of Illinois– One of them is now a circuit judge, one other has been such, one is ^now^ U.S. District Attorney, and the others are all lawyers of high standing– I fully indorse Majr[Major] Fellows and them, reserving only, that I have already recommended S. Francis for the Secretaryship of Oregon.3
Your Obt Servt[Obedient Servant]A. Lincoln
<Page 2>
FREE
SPRINGFIELD Ill.[Illinois]
SEP[September] 13
Hon: Secretary of StateWashingtonD.C.
[docketing]
Secretary Oregon
Hart Fellows recomd[recommended]
Entd[Entered]
[docketing]
1849
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter, including the address on the last sheet, which was folded to create an envelope.
2Lincoln enclosed a letter signed by Orville H. Browning and others. It recommended Hart Fellows for either a judgeship or appointment as secretary of the Oregon Territory.
3President Zachary Taylor had appointed Lincoln secretary of the Oregon Territory August 9, 1849, less than a month after he 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 Whigs in Illinois 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.
But in a letter to Secretary of State John M. Clayton dated August 21, 1849, Lincoln declined the appointment and recommended Simeon Francis for the position instead. On September 6, 1849, Lincoln wrote William A. Minshall, one of the signees of the enclosed letter, informing him that since he’d already recommended Francis for the position, he could not recommend Fellows. Lincoln subsequently wrote Clayton two letters in late September 1849, reiterating his endorsement of Francis for the appointment. 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.
Fellows’ name does not appear in the official registers for the officers and agents of the government for 1849, 1851, and 1853, so apparently he did not receive any other appointment.
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.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:306-7; Abraham Lincoln to John M. Clayton; Abraham Lincoln to John M. Clayton; 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; Abraham Lincoln to Thomas Ewing.

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.