James M. Davis to Abraham Lincoln, 10 June 18491Springfield. June 10/49A Lincoln Esq[Esquire]Dear friend
I learn that Mr B– has left this morning– for Chicago– & from thence to Washington– City– I have no doubt of– your success–2 still the true plan is to leave no stone unturned let me then advise you– not to delay any time on your way– reach the City as soon as possible– I have written several letters to my friends in the south requesting them to forward letters direct to Old Zach3 they were put in the office this morning. I was told this morning– that Butterfield is very much alarmed– it is thought by news he has recd[received] from Washington– Nil desperandum is the motto of physicians in desperate cases of disease & I presume it will be Mr Bs in this case4Your friend trulyJ M Davis
1James M. Davis wrote and signed this letter. Davis wrote another letter to Abraham Lincoln the same day.
2Justin H. Butterfield, James L. D. Morrison, and Cyrus Edwards were vying to become commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office. Lincoln entered the competition after learning that Butterfield was favored over Morrison and Edwards.
As competition for the job intensified, William H. Henderson and Josiah M. Lucas, Lincoln supporters living in Washington, DC, urged Lincoln to come 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. See the General Land Office Affair.
William H. Henderson to Abraham Lincoln; William H. Henderson to Abraham Lincoln; Josiah M. Lucas to Abraham Lincoln; 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.
3This is a reference to people from southern Illinois sending letters in support of Lincoln to President Zachary Taylor. Thomas Ewing was the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, but Taylor was ultimately responsible for appointing the commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office.
4Nil desperandum means nothing must be despaired of or despair of nothing.
Ultimately, neither Morrison, Edwards, nor Lincoln received the appointment; the job went to Butterfield instead. See the General Land Office Affair.
Jon R. Stone, The Routledge Dictionary of Latin Quotations (New York and London: Routledge, 2005), 185.
Autograph Letter Signed, 1 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).