Abraham Lincoln to John Murray, 25 February 18501Springfield, Ills. Feb: 25. 1850Hon: John MurrayDear Sir
Ninian handed me your letter,2 in consequence of which I have written the accompanying letter, which as you see, Ninian & Stuart have also signed–3 I addressed it to the President, because you can then send it to whom you please to present to him; and because Baker & Butterfield I believe are not very cordial with one another–4 Either alone would do better–Yours as everA. Lincoln
<Page 2>SPRINGFIELD Ill.[Illinois]
5Hon– John MurrayBellevilleIlls–
Febry[February] 25th 1850
Febry[February] 25th 1850
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter. He also wrote the name and address for John Murray on the envelope in the second image, but he did not write the return address on the envelope or the text “John Throne” in the second image.
3The enclosed letter Lincoln refers to, addressed to President Zachary Taylor and containing the signatures of Lincoln, Ninian W. Edwards, and John T. Stuart, has not been located. Some of the context for the content of this letter to Murray is therefore missing.
4Tensions most likely existed between Edward D. Baker and Justin H. Butterfield due to Baker’s views about President Taylor’s handling of political patronage appointments in general, and of Butterfield’s appointment as commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office in particular. In the aftermath of the Whig victory in the 1848 election, Baker had sought a position in Taylor’s cabinet. Lincoln wrote Taylor to urge Baker’s appointment, enclosing a petition endorsing Baker signed by the Whig members of the Illinois General Assembly. Yet Taylor did not offer Baker a cabinet position.
Taylor did, however, appoint Butterfield commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office, someone whom both Baker and Lincoln had objected to as a candidate for the prominent patronage position. As Lincoln explained in a May 16, 1849 letter to William B. Preston prior to Taylor’s decision, 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. Both Baker and Lincoln backed other candidates for the appointment, and Lincoln eventually lobbied for the position himself after learning that Butterfield was favored for the job. See the General Land Office Affair. The Taylor administration received heavy criticism for its handling of political patronage appointments, particularly after the Democratic Party won numerous elections in 1849, and many Illinois Whigs in addition to Baker and Lincoln were upset by Butterfield’s appointment.
Abraham Lincoln to William B. Warren and Others; Michael F. Holt, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 418-19.
Copy of Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Association Files, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum [Springfield, IL].