Abraham Lincoln to Joseph R. Underwood, 3 June 18491Springfield, Ills. June 3. 1849Hon: J. R. UnderwoodDear Sir:
You may remember that while at Washington I sought to have you recommend Mr Cyrus Edwards, of this state, for Commissioner of the General Land Office–2 Though not much disinclined, I believe you had not done so when I left– I think it probable, you have since– I have received a Telegraphic despach from Washington of the 1st Inst saying a Mr Butterfield of Chicago, will be appointed, unless prevented by the use of my own ^name–^3 Mr B. though entirely competent, so far as I know, is not recommended by any citizen of this state directly for the office; and we feel, that should he receive it, we are emphatically under a foreign guardianship,– This, you know, men rebel against–4 The despach says the appointment has been postponed three weeks in order that our state may be heard from– As against him, I desire the office; and while I shall rely chiefly upon recommendations from home, I wish to make itYour Obt Servt[Obedient Servant]A. Lincoln
<Page 2>appear, if I can, that I was not greatly under par, for one of my limited acquaintance, and brief career, while at Washington–5 For the latter object, I shall be very grateful if you will write the President as pretty a letter for me, as, in your judgment, the truth will permit– If you write, so frame the letter as to save whatever chance, Mr Edwards, or any one else, you may have recommended, may yet have–6 Not a moment of time is to be lost7
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter. He sent very similar letters to numerous people in early June 1849. Mary Lincoln also wrote and signed a similar letter on Lincoln’s behalf.
Abraham Lincoln to Josiah B. Herrick; Abraham Lincoln to Robert C. Schenck; Abraham Lincoln to William A. Minshall and Robert S. Blackwell; Abraham Lincoln to Willie P. Mangum; Abraham Lincoln to William H. Seward; Abraham Lincoln to Duff Green; Abraham Lincoln to Unknown; Abraham Lincoln to David Rumsey; Abraham Lincoln to William Nelson; Abraham Lincoln to Nathaniel Pope.
2Justin H. Butterfield, James L. D. Morrison, and Cyrus Edwards were vying to become commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office. See the General Land Office Affair.
4Lincoln summarized his objections to Butterfield’s appointment as commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office in a May 16, 1849 letter to William B. Preston.
5This is a reference to Lincoln’s service in the U.S. House of Representatives. He served in the Thirtieth Congress from March 4, 1847 until March 3, 1849.
Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1996 (Alexandria, VA: CQ Staff Directories, 1997), 1395.
6Lincoln entered the competition for the position of commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office after learning that Butterfield was favored over Morrison and Edwards. See the General Land Office Affair.
7William W. Bishop and Alexander P. Dunbar wrote Lincoln on June 6, 1849 warning him that others may be working to prejudice Underwood against him.
Ultimately, neither Morrison, Edwards, nor Lincoln received the appointment; the job went to Butterfield instead. See the General Land Office Affair.
Autograph Letter Signed, 4 page(s), James S. Copley Library (La Jolla, CA).