Alexander Evans to Abraham Lincoln, 23 June 18491Dear Lincoln
I give you a letter with great pleasure. I had not only "as lief you should have the office as another Illinoisan" but a little "liefer".2
I remember very well when a small band of Genl Taylor‘s friends (30 in number) at Washington, and you one of them, brought about his nomination: since then many have received the credit of that act who are in no way Entitled to it, but about your action there is no mistake3Truly Yrs[Yours]Alexander EvansElkton Md. June 23, 1849
<Page 2>Hon Abraham Lincoln
2Evans references the competition over 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 vying for the position. Lincoln entered the competition after learning that Butterfield was favored over Morrison and Edwards. See the General Land Office Affair.
In early June 1849, Lincoln sent a series of letters to numerous people requesting letters in support of his candidacy. Presumably, Lincoln made a similar request of Evans, although no such letter from Lincoln to Evans has been located. Lincoln commenced many of these letters in the same fashion: “Would you not as soon that I should have the General Land Office as any other Illinoisan?” “Lief” and “liefer” mean gladly or willingly.
Abraham Lincoln to Josiah B. Herrick; Abraham Lincoln to James M. McLean; Abraham Lincoln to Robert C. Schenck; Abraham Lincoln to Joseph R. Underwood; 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 Unknown; Abraham Lincoln to David Rumsey; Abraham Lincoln to William Nelson; Abraham Lincoln to Nathaniel Pope; The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia (New York: Century, 1906), 4:3440.
3Evans references Lincoln’s efforts to get Zachary Taylor nominated by the Whig Party and elected president in 1848. Lincoln had actively worked to advance Taylor’s candidacy as a member of the so-called “Young Indians,” a Whig Executive Committee created in the spring of 1847 to provide the Whig Party with a unified national organization for the imminent presidential campaign. Including principally but not exclusively Southern Whigs, the Young Indians made it their goal to nominate Taylor as the Whig Party standard bearer in 1848.
Neither Morrison, Edwards, nor Lincoln received the appointment; the job went to Butterfield instead. See the General Land Office Affair.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:274-75; Holman Hamilton, Zachary Taylor: Soldier in the White House (Hamden, CT: Archon, 1966), 63-64; Michael F. Holt, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 285-89.
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).