Josiah M. Lucas to Abraham Lincoln, 23 June 18491Washington June 23/49Friend Lincoln:
My present place is not a permanent one, the language of the law under which I was appointed, says: "the Commissioner shall appoint three temperary Clerks, (purposes specified) during the recess of Congress."2 It may be that at the meeting of Congress, my services will be dispensed with. It is true that the Commissioner has the right by law to employ temporary clerks during the cession of Congress– it is also true, that he may not want them (especially myself)!3
I think there is but little doubt but there will be some removals in our Bureau, and of course there must be some appointed. Such being the facts– may I not give Mr. Ewing a chance to give me a permanency?
I do believe, that if you will see Mr. Ewing upon the subject that he will give me a such a place as I think I am entitled to viz a salary of 1300$ or 1400$. You can with truth tell him that I have labored long and hard– that I am poor– having been an ^the^ editor of the Illinoian for many years, a part of the time in connection with the lamented Hardin. that I have strong papers on file, and could make them as strong as Whigs could make it ^them^ in Illinois
<Page 2>and that I am extensively acquainted in my state. I cannot but have some doubts, if left to the "tender mercies" of Mr. Butterfield– as he could have some excuse ^to dismiss me^ from the fact that my place is but temporary I think that Mr. Ewing would be ready to grant the request, as central Illinois, as yet, has had nothing,4 and especially would he be willing to do any thing for you, particularly a th request so reasonable as this. I know that unless some effort is made to draw from Mr. Ewing something more tangible than the mere general assertion "that your friends shall not be persecuted" my position will be any thing but certain, and at no time pleasant. He might be like the "old Ranger " forget it–" I do fear he might "tuck me on the rise."!
I hope that you will do me the kindness to see Mr. Ewing for me– also Mr. Butterfield– and make the request. for me. You can make such statements about me as you please, and I will give you full liberty to say as many extravigant things of my Whigery and influence as you please. This done, I think I am safe– not done, I shall remain in doubt.5Your friendJ. M. Lucas
<Page 4>Hon. A. LincolnWashington cityD.C.present.
1Josiah M. Lucas wrote and signed this letter, including the address on the last image, which was folded to create an envelope.
2U.S. Congress was in recess from March 4, 1849 until December 3, 1849. Lucas was appointed a temporary clerk in the U.S. General Land Office in March 1849.
U.S. House Journal. 1849. 30th Cong., 2nd sess., 672; U.S. House Journal. 1849. 31st Cong., 1st sess., 3; Abraham Lincoln to George W. Crawford.
3Lucas refers here to Justin H. Butterfield, whom President Zachary Taylor had just appointed as the new commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office. Throughout April and May of 1849, Lucas had urged Abraham Lincoln to join the competition for the position of commissioner; therefore Lucas worried that Butterfield might not retain him as a clerk.
4This is a reference to the fact that, of the appointments made in Illinois after Taylor was elected president, none were to people from central Illinois. In 1849, Archibald Williams was U.S. district attorney for Illinois and Benjamin Bond was U.S. marshal for Illinois. Bond was a resident of Carlyle, Illinois, which is in southern Illinois, and Williams was a resident of Quincy, Illinois, which is northwest of Springfield, Illinois.
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), 247.
5Lincoln’s response to this letter, if he wrote one, has not been located. However, in a July 1849 letter to John Addison, Lincoln wrote that he was glad Lucas had a “good understanding with the new Commissioner,” and, in a November 1849 letter to Lucas, Lincoln wrote that he was glad Ewing had “sustained” Lucas in his position. Yet Lucas’ name does not appear in the official register of the officers and agents of the government employed as of September 30, 1849, nor does it appear in the official register for 1851. His name is listed, however, in the official registers for 1853, 1855, and 1857 as a clerk in the U.S. General Land Office.
Register of all Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 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), 134; Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1855 (Washington, DC: A. O. P. Nicholson, 1855), 78; Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1857 (Washington, DC: A. O. P. Nicholson, 1857), 79.
Autograph Letter Signed, 4 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).