David Mark to Abraham Lincoln, 2 May 18491Pekin 2 May 1849Hon A LincolnSir
Understanding that the enemies of T R King (of our place) have circulated reports calculated to reproach the character of said King to wit that he was a gambler tipler and immoral that he had been indicted at our court for keeping a gambling House &C[etc],2 Now the first of these charges are incorrect having been acquainted with Mr King for some Five Years I know him to be a man of good habits both moral and temperate
The last charge arose from this circumstance Being myself at that time on the grand Jury; a strict search being made to find out the offenders who kept gameing houses; some person through some ill will against Mr King in this matter alledged that some few persons (Friends no doubt of Mr Kings) called at his room one evening and that they played cards for corn and said witness believed that the corn was redeemed with money; the grand Jury accordingly found a bill; but the whole thing looked so malicious it being in his own private room the court took no notice of itRespectfullyDavid Mark3
2The opponents of Turner R. King also charged him with being an abolitionist.
3Mark wrote another letter on May 7 defending King.
Mark addressed these letters to Abraham Lincoln because Lincoln had become embroiled in a controversy over King’s application for a position in the U.S. General Land Office in Springfield, Illinois. In December 1848, Philo H. Thompson wrote Lincoln urging him to help King. From December 1848 to February 1849, Lincoln received several letters urging him to help King secure a position. On April 7, 1849, Lincoln wrote a letter to Secretary of the Interior Thomas Ewing recommending King for the job of register. On April 13, he wrote another letter reversing himself, recommending King for the job of receiver.
On April 25, Lincoln wrote Thompson that a “tirade” has erupted over his support for King. Whigs in Springfield were upset that Lincoln had endorsed King, who was from Tazewell County, for a plum patronage job instead of someone from Sangamon County. Hoping to scuttle King’s appointment, opponents cast aspersions on King’s moral rectitude. Lincoln bemoaned that his influence in Washington had broken down and that King’s prospects for a job had diminished. Lincoln urged Thompson to find out the truth about King, and, if the charges proved false, to take measures to sustain his endorsement of King. In the meantime, Lincoln wrote Secretary Ewing attempting to head off any charges against King or his other recommendations for jobs in the Department of the Interior.
Acting on Lincoln’s request, Thompson crafted a petition denying the allegations leveled against King and secured the signatures of prominent Whigs and Democrats in Tazewell County. He enclosed the signed petition in a letter written on May 3. Between April 30 and May 7, Mark, Samuel R. Baker, Edward Jones, and John W. Casey wrote Lincoln attesting to King’s moral character and his fitness for public office. Lincoln penned another letter to Ewing on May 10, again recommending King for the job of register. In late May, King received the appointment as register and held the job until 1853.
William B. Doolittle to Abraham Lincoln; Robert W. Briggs to Abraham Lincoln; Richard T. Gill to Abraham Lincoln; Samuel R. Baker to Abraham Lincoln; Edward Jones to Abraham Lincoln; John W. Casey to Abraham Lincoln; David Mark to Abraham Lincoln; Niles’ National Register (Philadelphia, PA), 23 May 1849, 1:2; 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), 135; 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), 140; 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), 138.
Autograph Letter Signed, 1 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).