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Abraham Lincoln to Thomas Ewing, 27 September 18491
NEW LINE OF TELEGRAPH.
NORTH AMERICAN TELEGRAPH COMPANY
OFFICE IN WASHINGTON,
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OFFICE IN BALTIMORE,
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OFFICE IN WILMINGTON,
GLAZIER’S BUILDING, CORNER OF MARKET AND THIRD STREETS.
OFFICE IN PHILADELPHIA,
No. 100 CHESNUT STREET, ABOVE THIRD STREET,
(SECOND FLOOR.)
All communications made over this Line are confidential, the operators being bound by oath not to divulge the contents of any despatch.
Should the patrons of the Line at any time have occasion to make complaints, they are respectfully referred to the General Superintendent, who will make redress for any neglect on the part of persons employed by the Company.
HENRY J. ROGERS, General Superintendent.
Please reply by carrier promptly— write your despatch plain— use no figures— give address in full of person to whom sent— pre-pay— state if the answer is to be paid by you, and where you are to be found.
BY BAIN’S ELECTO-CHEMICAL TELEGRAPH,
Hon Thomas Ewing
I respectfully decline Governorship of Oregon; I am still anxious that Simeon Frances shall be secretary of that Territory2
A. Lincoln
1This telegram is attributed to Abraham Lincoln but is not written in Lincoln’s hand. On September 20, 1849, Secretary of the Interior Thomas Ewing sent Lincoln a telegram in Springfield while Lincoln was in Tremont, Illinois, informing him of his appointment as governor of the Oregon Territory. This telegram has not been located. But, as Lincoln explained in a letter dated September 23, he asked a friend in Springfield to reply to Ewing immediately via telegraph declining the position. That friend did not telegraph Ewing as requested, fearing Lincoln was declining the position in haste. This led Ewing to telegraph Lincoln in Springfield again on September 25. Once Lincoln learned of this, he traveled back to Springfield, sent this telegram to Ewing himself, and wrote Ewing a letter explaining this sequence of events.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 20 September 1849, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1849-09-20; 25 September 1849, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1849-09-25; Paul I. Miller, “Lincoln and the Governorship of Oregon,” The Mississippi Valley Historical Review 23 (December 1936), 392-93.
2Prior to offering Lincoln appointment as governor of the Oregon Territory, President Zachary Taylor’s administration had offered Lincoln appointment as secretary of the Oregon Territory, an appointment which Lincoln also declined but recommended Francis for instead. The administration offered Lincoln both positions soon 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 Whigs of 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 Taylor and Ewing. The administration hoped that by offering Lincoln a political appointment in the Oregon Territory, it would appease any angry Illinois Whigs and prevent additional attacks upon Butterfield’s appointment. Lincoln seriously considered accepting the governorship of the Oregon Territory, but ultimately declined the position, 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.
In the end, Taylor appointed Edward Hamilton of Ohio secretary of the Oregon Territory. 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 either, but, by 1863, he was a paymaster in Oregon.
Appointment of Abraham Lincoln as Secretary of the Territory of Oregon; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:306-7; 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.

Handwritten Telegram Signed with a Representation, 1 page(s), Ewing Family Papers, Box 53, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).