Samuel R. Baker to Abraham Lincoln, 30 April 18491Pekin April 30th 1849Friend Lincoln
We had a rumor up here of the appointment of Mr Davis, Mr King & Mr Ellis the Tazewell whigs are very much pleased at the probability of the report being true at least in relation to T. R. King.2 I am surprised to learn through Philo Thompson that the springfield Whigs were displeased with his appointment and accuse him of being an abolitionist, a Gambler and a drunkard, My Room was for nearly a year adjoining the one occupied by King, consequently I was thrown with him often besides this I have boarded at the same hotel and been thrown with him in a variety of ways and have never yet seen him drunk nor have I ever heard any one else say that he ever got drunk or drank too much liquor he is not strictly a temperance man but is far from being dissipated, As for being a Gambler that too is a lie, King occasionally has a few friends in his room to play cards, for amusement but not to gamble. In fact he has nothing to gamble on having sold out ^his store^ some years since to a man who shortly died and proved insolvent Mr King was stripped of his earthly all and has since been in reduced circumstances
<Page 2>In addition to this his health has been bad and his constitution is broken down, and he is in my opinion unable to make a living in any laborious occupation and will have to depend on a clerkship of some sort, for support With regard to being a abolitionist no one can serious think that who knows him, his brother is a very rabid one and is as ultra as Erastus Wright could wish but Turner R King is just the right thing and has no fellowship with the abolitionists but [?] them on all occasions In Politics he is as rabid a Whig as his brother is a abolitionist and is always on the alert and turns out on election days, and works unceasingly till the polls close, I really think it uncharitable in any one to speak of him thus. He is a zealous uncompromising Whig—has always been so, and his appointment will render entire satisfaction to the Whigs of Tazewell
I think our end of the district entitled to one appointment, all the Whigs think so too and by common consent look to King as the appointee. You Know best who will be the man some one will be disappointed and perhaps abuse you for it, but just tell them that I say to go to hell. that King is an honest upright intelligent gentlemanly man, every way qualified to fill the place, that he is personally and politically a deserving man of it.
Of one thing you may rest assured that we will all stick to you for this as long as your name is Abe so with this I close my letter3Respectfully yoursS. R. BakerP. S.[Postscript]
I am more than exceedingly gratified at the appointment of Mr Ellis’, he has been my warm personal friend from boyhood up, and I rejoice in his prosperity S R B
<Page 4>PEKIN Ill.[Illinois]
MAY . . .
5Hon A. LincolnSpringfield,Illinois
1Samuel R. Baker wrote and signed this letter and the postscript. He also wrote the address on the fourth sheet, which was folded to create an envelope.
2Walter Davis and Turner R. King had sought appointments in the U.S. General Land Office in Springfield. In June 1849, Davis received appointment as receiver, holding that position until 1853. Abner Y. Ellis became postmaster of Springfield, holding that job from April 1849 to March 1853.
Niles’ National Register (Philadelphia, PA), 23 May 1849, 1:2; Illinois Journal (Springfield), 6 June 1849, 2:1; Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-1971, NARA Microfilm Publication, M841, 145 rolls, Records of the Post Office Department, RG 28, 1845-1855, 18:172, National Archives Building, Washington, DC; 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), 137, *489; 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), 141, *549; 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), 139, 518*.
3This letter was part of Abraham Lincoln’s strategy to save King’s nomination for an appointment in the General Land Office in Springfield. In December 1848, Philo H. Thompson wrote Lincoln urging him to get King a job with the General Land Office in Springfield. From December 1848 to February 1849, Lincoln received several letters urging him to help King secure a position. On April 7, 1849, Lincoln wrote a letter to Secretary of the Interior Thomas Ewing recommending King for the job of register. On April 13, he wrote another letter reversing himself, recommending King for the job of receiver.
On April 25, Lincoln wrote Thompson that a “tirade” has erupted over his support for King, with opponents casting aspersions on King’s moral rectitude. Lincoln bemoaned that his influence in Washington had broken down and that King’s prospects for a job had diminished. Lincoln urged Thompson to find out the truth about King, and, if the charges proved false, to take measures to sustain his endorsement of King. In the meantime, Lincoln wrote Secretary Ewing attempting to head off any charges against King or his other recommendations for jobs in the Department of the Interior.
Acting on Lincoln’s request, Thompson crafted a petition denying the allegations leveled against King and secured the signatures of prominent Whigs and Democrats in Tazewell County. He enclosed the signed petition in a letter written on May 3. Between April 30 and May 7, Baker, Edward Jones, John W. Casey, and David Mark wrote Lincoln attesting to King’s moral character and his fitness for public office. Lincoln penned another letter to Ewing on May 10, again recommending King for the job of register. Lincoln enclosed these letters, Thompson’s letter, and the signed petition in his letter to Ewing. In late May, King received the appointment as register and held the job until 1853.
Samuel R. Baker to Abraham Lincoln; William B. Doolittle to Abraham Lincoln; Robert W. Briggs to Abraham Lincoln; Richard T. Gill to Abraham Lincoln; Edward Jones to Abraham Lincoln; John W. Casey to Abraham Lincoln; David Mark to Abraham Lincoln; David Mark 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, 135; Register of all Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1851, 140; Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1853, 138.
Autograph Letter Signed, 4 page(s), Box 252, RG 48, Entry 15: Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, 1833-1964, Divisional Records, 1843-1943, Records of the Appointments Division, 1817-1922, Field Office Appointment Papers, NACP.