Jonathan K. Cooper to Abraham Lincoln, 7 May 18581
Hon. Abram LincolnDr[Dear] Sir:
A young friend of mine, Geo. Phelps, Esqr.[Esquire] of Lewistown, Fulton Co., admitted to the Bar sometime since is desirous of obtaining the post of Prosecuting atty[attorney] in his District, become vacant recently by the resignation of Jno. S. Bailey Esqr. of McDonough Co., who, it seems, they have made Judge of the circuit court there–2 Mr. Phelps is a promising young Lawyer, and a gentleman of very high character, besides being a good republican of the genuine old Whig stamp– And I should be well pleased to see him appointed to the post he desires– But having no personal acquaintance with Gov. Bissell, (who, I believe has the appointment in case of vacancies of this sort)3 I have taken the liberty, instead of applying directly to him, of dropping this
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line to you, to ask, (if you shall not deem it out of place, and can without particular inconvenience do so) that you will present the matter to the Gov., with such suggestions as you may deem proper– I confess that I take this step with some hesitation— not liking to trouble you, and certainly not feeling that I have, either for myself or friends any special claims upon your time or attention— tho'[though] I do claim to rank myself in the number of your admirers and friends– I understand from Mr. Phelps, that Mr. Browning, of Quincy, will forward a recommendation & interest himself for him– But as there is likely to be competition by others who have probably started earlier in the race, he is naturally somewhat solicitous, as well as doubtful about the result– Should you feel that you can consistently do anything for Mr. Phelps in this matter,
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it will be duly appreciated by4
your's very truly &c.[etc]Jona. K. Cooper
[ endorsement ]
I do not know Mr Phelps; but I do know Mr Cooper to be a good and true man.
A. Lincoln5

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[ docketing ]
Jona K. Cooper.
Peoria May 7. 18586
[ docketing ]
J. K. Cooper7
1Jonathan K. Cooper wrote and signed this letter.
Cooper wrote and signed a copy of this letter the same day. The copy differs from this letter only in minor respects. It also does not include Abraham Lincoln’s endorsement or the docketing shown in the third and fourth images.
2John S. Bailey had served as state's attorney for Illinois' Fifth Judicial Circuit since 1853, but resigned his position and was elected judge for the Fifth Judicial Circuit.
S. J. Clarke, History of McDonough County Illinois (Springfield, IL: D. W. Lusk, 1878), 304, 306; Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 19 June 1858, 2:3.
3Per legislation enacted in 1835, the Illinois General Assembly was empowered to elect state's attorneys biennially. The governor could fill vacancies that occurred between sessions of the General Assembly via appointment of a qualified individual. Article five, section twenty-one of the 1848 Illinois Constitution stipulated that state's attorneys would be elected by the public. Section twenty-three of article five granted the governor the right to fill vacancies in state’s attorneys positions that occurred by “death, resignation, or removal,” in the manner directed by the General Assembly .
4Lincoln replied to this letter on May 10, mentioning his endorsement of Cooper.
In the end, George Phelps did not receive the appointment; Governor William H. Bissell appointed Louis H. Waters to serve out the remainder of Bailey’s term as state’s attorney. Waters served in this position until 1860.
S. J. Clarke, History of McDonough County Illinois, 306.
5Lincoln wrote and signed this endorsement, shown in the third image.
6An unknown person wrote this script.
7Lincoln wrote this docketing in pencil, shown on the right side of the fourth image.

Autograph Letter Signed, 4 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).