Benjamin F. James to Abraham Lincoln, 29 May 18491Dear Lincoln,
I have been requested by a very worthy Whig, to enquire of you whether this District is represented at West Point–2 the Revd[Reverend] Mr Andrews, has a son 18 yrs[years] of age who is desirous of entering there and would like to know what steps are necessary to be taken in the matter–3 We are a dull set of people up this way, no business, or excitement of any kindI recd[received] a letter from the P. O Department yesterday requesting me to recommend a suitable person for P. M.[Postmaster] I trust it is a good omen, that some valuable appointment will be forthcoming to your humble servant– I saw Baker in Pekin a few days since he is disgusted with some of the appointments made by the administration, he looks extremely well, and is engaged in settling the affairs of his brother in Pekin– I wish you could find time to write occasionally of the doings in the political world– King is waiting anxiously for the Land Office to come to him, had it not been for the opposition raised against him, with you I think he would prefer having the Clerkship of the County Court–4 We shall endeavor to stop the removal of our offices to Pekin by mandamus,5 and shall at least have the pleasure of plaguing the Celestials a little–6In haste Truly Yrs[Yours]Benjn F JamesTremont May 29th 1849–
5Hon. A Lincoln–Springfield–Ills
2In 1848, Abraham Lincoln wrote a letter recommending Hezekiah H. Garber for a position at West Point. Garber was a resident of Menard County, Illinois, in the Seventh Congressional District, which was the same district as Tremont, Illinois. Garber was accepted to West Point in July 1848.
Howard W. Allen and Vincent A. Lacey, eds., Illinois Elections, 1818-1990 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1992), 126; George W. Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy, 3rd ed. (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin, 1891), 2:515.
4In April 1849, Abraham Lincoln wrote letters to Secretary of the Interior Thomas Ewing in an effort to help Turner R. King secure a position with the U.S. General Land Office in Springfield, Illinois. Opponents of King’s appointment charged him with being an abolitionist, drunkard, and gambler. Acting on Lincoln’s request, Philo H. Thompson crafted a petition denying the allegations leveled against King and secured the signatures of prominent Whigs and Democrats in Tazewell County, Illinois. Lincoln penned another letter to Ewing on May 10, 1849, again recommending King for the job of register. In late May, King received the appointment as register and held the job until 1853.
Abraham Lincoln to Thomas Ewing; Abraham Lincoln to Thomas Ewing; Abraham Lincoln to Philo H. Thompson; Petition of Philo H. Thompson and Others to Abraham Lincoln; Philo H. Thompson 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.
5A mandamus is a writ issued by a superior court directing the person or inferior court to whom the writ is issued to perform some specified act. In 1849, residents of Tazewell County voted to move the county seat from Tremont to Pekin.
Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law (St. Paul, MN: West, 1891), 748; History of Tazewell County Illinois (Chicago: Chas. C. Chapman, 1879), 249-50.
6Lincoln responded to James on June 3, but his letter has not been located. James subsequently helped Lincoln gather references to support Lincoln’s effort to win appointment as commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office. See the General Land Office Affair.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).