Charles H. Constable to Abraham Lincoln, 5 May 18491Charleston, May 5th– 1849Hon. A. LincolnDear Lincoln–
Disappointed in meeting you here, I enclose a letter to you entrusted to my care by our esteemed friend Webb–2
I have anxiously expected to hear from you in response to letters addressed to you while at Washington City, but have concluded, that press of engagements has prevented your attention to my letter–3 You will excuse me for again presenting to you my desire to obtain some suitable appointment under the administration, and did you know all would readily appreciate my motive– Lincoln it is no inordinate thirst for place, but an honest desire to render the talents with which God has endowed me, and the acquirements from years of study necessary to a serious struggle up the hill of life, and an aid in supporting and educating a growing family– I am convinced that the practice is rapidly becoming less profitable, and I can look to no resort more certain to yield the desired returns. Owing to a series of difficulties, all attributable to a pecuniary loss in 1840, from the failure of my former Guardian, I am labouring under, to me, serious pecuniary embarrassments—property yields nothing—
<Page 2>and money is out of any reliable calculation– Now do not think I am quaulous or disponding, now I wish to appeal, improperly, to your sympathies– I do not wish to be considered importunate, and wish only to explain my position– I rely on your friendship, which has ever been a source of self congratulation to me, and I feel that it is not necessary to do more than present the facts of my present position.
I have thought, that any Territorial judicial appointment, Government Agency, or a Diplomatic Appointment to any of the South American States or minor Governments, might be obtained for me—indeed I am willing to do anything honorable, to releive myself from my now unpleasant situation– I can say to you, and am not egotistical in so doing, that there is but one feeling among our friends on this subject, and that is, anxiety that I should succeed– I can command as strong recommendations as my most sanguine wishes would dictate, and now have letters of that character, although I do not use them.
I want you to write to me, when convenient say to me what you have done or will do,—advise me how to act, for on your advice I can rely– I cannot act in this matter myself alone, if I never succeed, for the reasons here-
<Page 3>tofore assigned, and I look to my friends, those ^on^ whom I implicitly rely as friends, to assist me ^in^ this, perhaps, the most trying crisis, through which I may be called on to pass– As you advise I will act–4
Present my sincere regards to Mrs Lincoln’s Edwards' Family & all friends, and rest assured that under all vicissitudes, I shall ever feelMost truly, yr.[your] friendC. H. Constable5N. B. Chapman tells me yr[your] friends & relatives here are all well.C–
<Page 4>CHARLESTON Ill.[Illinois]
5Hon. A. LincolnSpringfieldIllinois–
1Charles H. Constable wrote and signed the letter and postscript. He also wrote the address on the fourth sheet, which was folded to create an envelope.
2Edwin B. Webb’s letter has not been located.
In the winter of 1848-49, Webb wrote Abraham Lincoln two letters regarding an appointment for Constable, neither of which has been located. He also wrote Lincoln in April 1849.
5In addition to the letter from Webb, Lincoln received a letter from Justin Harlan soliciting Lincoln’s assistance on Constable’s behalf. On May 13, Lincoln wrote a letter of introduction on Constable’s behalf to Secretary of State John M. Clayton. Constable’s name does not appear in the official registers of the officers and agents of the government for 1849, 1851, and 1853, so apparently he did not receive an appointment.
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); 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); 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).
Autograph Letter Signed, 4 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).