Benjamin F. James to Abraham Lincoln, 3 June 18491Dear Lincoln
Yours of 3rd is just recd[received] I enclose a few names to you at Springfield so that you can Judge if your desire to have more signatures and reply by return mail, I only wish you could get it without much trouble or expense to you, 2 And would suggest that it would be far more preferable to hold an office under you than in the departments to which you have so kindly recommended me–3 I write Thompson to procure signatures in the event of his not hearing from you to day & forward to Washington–4Truly Yrs[Yours]B F JamesTremont June 3rd 1849
<Page 2>Hon A Lincoln.Springfield–Ills[Illinois]
2Abraham Lincoln’s letter of June 3 has not been located. The enclosed correspondence that James references was not found with this letter, and it has not been located.
3In March 1849, Lincoln wrote letters to Secretary of State John M. Clayton, Secretary of War George W. Crawford, and others recommending James for a job in one of the executive departments. James pressed Lincoln in April about the status of his application. James does appear in the official registers of the officers and agents of the federal 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); Abraham Lincoln to Unknown; Abraham Lincoln to George W. Crawford; Abraham Lincoln to John M. Clayton; Benjamin F. James to Abraham Lincoln; Benjamin F. James to Abraham Lincoln.
4James references the contest to see who would replace Richard M. Young as commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office. Justin H. Butterfield, James L. D. Morrison, and Cyrus Edwards were among the early contestants. Lincoln entered the competition after learning that Butterfield was favored over Morrison and Edwards.
In early June, Lincoln asked supporters of his candidacy to send him letters to that effect. Presumably, he made the same request of James. James promised to forward more names to Lincoln in Washington, DC, because Lincoln, at the urging of William H. Henderson and Josiah Lucas, Lincoln supporters living in Washington, had decided to travel to the nation’s capital to personally lobby for the position. On June 9, Butterfield wrote Lincoln suggesting that neither go to Washington. Lincoln did not respond to this suggestion, and on June 10, both set out for the capital. Lincoln arrived on or before June 19.
On June 12, James wrote Lincoln again, sending along recommendations from Pekin, Illinois. Ultimately, neither Morrison, Edwards, nor Lincoln received the appointment; the job went to Butterfield instead. See the General Land Office Affair.
William H. Henderson to Abraham Lincoln; William H. Henderson to Abraham Lincoln; Josiah M. Lucas to Abraham Lincoln; Abraham Lincoln to Josiah B. Herrick; Abraham Lincoln to James M. McLean; 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 David Rumsey; Abraham Lincoln to William Nelson; The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 10 June 1849, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1849-06-10; 19 June 1849, http://www.thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1849-06-19.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).