Abraham Lincoln to John T. Stuart, 3 February 18411Springfield, Feb. 3rd 1841Dear Stuart:
You see by this, that I am neither dead, nor quite crazy yet—2 The same everlasting subject—that of filling offices—is the one that now induces me to write. And I suppose I may add, that the most [
and?] vexatious branch of that everlasting subject ^is^ the one under consideration, that is, the appointment of Marshall—
If you remember, I now stand on that question 1st John Dawson, 2nd Dr Edwards, & I now add 3rd George W. Harrison (the Jo Daviess senator) Personally I have better feeling for none than for Harrison; and I believe the appointment of none would be more popular with our friends than of him—3
Our Judiciary Bill, as it is called, has passed both Houses of the General Assembly, & only wants the sanction of the Council of Revision to become a law—4 It repeals all the Circuit judges out of office, and adds five members to the Supreme bench, and sends all the supreme judges upon the Circuits— The five new Judges will of course be Locos, and they, being a majority, that tribunal necessarily becomes a Loco concern— All the whig clerks will be removed—5Yours forever.A. Lincoln
2Presumably, Lincoln was referring to his mental state in the aftermath of his reputed breaking of his engagement to Mary Todd on, as Lincoln described it later to his friend Joshua F. Speed, the “fatal first of Jany[January] 41.”
3Lincoln had expressed his views on the appointment in a letter to Stuart dated December 17, 1840. Neither Dawson,Edwards, or Harrison would receive the appointment. President John Tyler appointed William S. Prentiss to the post.
Register of all Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval in the Service of the United States from the Thirtieth of September 1841 to the Thirtieth of September 1843 (Washington, DC: J. & G. S. Gideon, 1843), 257.
4The Senate laid the bill before the Council of Revision on February 3. On February 8, the Council returned the bill to the Senate with objections. Later that day, the Senate again passed the bill, despite the Council’s objections, by a vote of 23 yeas and 16 nays. On February 10, the House again passed the bill, thereby overriding the Council’s veto, by a vote of 46 yeas to 43 nays, Lincoln voting nay, and the act became law.
Illinois House Journal. 1840. 12th G. A., 358, 365-66; Illinois Senate Journal. 1840. 12th G. A., 232, 257-72, 273-74, 288.
5For more on the political background and consequences of the act, see the biographical sketch for the Illinois Judiciary Act of 1841.
Copy of Autograph Letter Signed, 1 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Association Files, Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).