Abraham Lincoln to George W. Rives, 15 December 18491Springfield, Decr 15– 1849G. W. Rives, Esq[Esquire]Dear Sir:
On my return from Kentucky, I found your letter of the 7th of November, and have delayed answering it till now, for the reason I now briefly state–2 From the beginning of our acquaintence I had felt the greatest kindness for you, and had supposed it was reciprocated on your part– Last summer, under circumstances which I mentioned to you, I was painfully constrained to withhold a recommendation which you desired, and shortly afterwards I learned, in such way as to believe it, that you were indulging open abuse of me–3 Of course my feelings were wounded– On receiving your last letter, the question occurred whether you were attempting to use me, at the same time you would injure ^me,^ or whether you might not have been misrepresented to me– If the former, I ought not to answer you; if the latter I ought, and so I have remained in suspense– I now enclose you a letter which you may use if you think fit–4Yours &c–[etc]A. Lincoln
2George W. Rives’ November 7, 1849 letter to Lincoln has not been located.
In the middle of October 1849, Abraham and Mary Lincoln traveled from Springfield, Illinois to Lexington, Kentucky to attend to business associated with the settling of Robert S. Todd’s estate and to participate with other Todd heirs a lawsuit against Robert Wickliffe in the Fayette County Circuit Court. The Lincolns arrived in Lexington on October 20, and returned to Springfield on November 15.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 18 October 1849, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1849-10-18; 15 November 1849, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1849-11-15; William H. Townsend, Lincoln and His Wife’s Home Town (Indianpolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1929), 208-9; Todd et al. v. Wickliffe, Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, 2d edition (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009), http://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Details.aspx?case=141847; Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 19 November 1849, 2:1.
3In April 1849, Rives had asked Lincoln to recommend him for a patronage position in the Minnesota Territory, or, failing that, for some position in California. Lincoln replied that he was unable to provide Rives a letter, as he had already recommended Anson G. Henry for appointment in Minnesota and did not want to decrease Henry’s chances for success by recommending another party for a position in the same territory.
No correspondence on the topic of Rives’ “open abuse” of Lincoln in the summer of 1849 has been located, other than this letter between Lincoln and Rives.
4Lincoln enclosed a letter of recommendation for Rives, addressed to Secretary of the Interior Thomas Ewing.
Rives’ 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.
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, 1 page(s), Rosenbach Museum and Library (Philadelphia, PA).