John W. Casey to Abraham Lincoln, 1 May 18491Pekin May 1st 1849.Hon. Abm Lincoln,Dr[Dear] Sir,
It having been represented to me that certain charges had been preferred against our respected Fellow Citizen, T. R. King, derogatory to his moral character, & eminating from sinister motives, it is with pleasure I bear my testimony in disproof of all such accusations= The charges referrd[referred] to, are, as I am informd[informed], that he is a common Drunkard & Gambler. These charges I pronounce utterly false & calumnious= Mr King has been a resident of this Town for the last 5 or 6 yrs.[years] & has uniformly maintaind[maintained] a character for Sobriety & temperance; though not belonging to that class who proscribe all intoxicating drinks, & practice total abstinence= In regard to the other allegation= Mr King is undoubtedly in the habit of playing cards for amusement, or for a small stake to give zest to the game; but that he is a Gambler in any obnoxious sense of the word, is false and malicious= As if not satisfied with blackening his moral character, these Traducers have put in circulation another falsehood, viz, that Mr K is an abolitionist= There is not the
<Page 2>least particle of truth in this report, & in charity to his accusers I must suppose they have confounded T. R. King with his Brother, Franklin King, who, is an avowed abolitionist=
And why are these reports now for the first time promulgated? The answer is too obvious to those acquainted with the circumstances to require repetition=
Mr King’s claims (as coming from a county in the District hitherto overlooked in the distribution of government favors) to the land office at Springfield having been presented, it is found there are other aspirants for the office, & hence the “head & front of his offending”.2Very Respectfully
Yr: Obt Svt[Your Obedient Servant]Jno W. Casey3
<Page 4>Hon. Abm LincolnSpringfieldIlls[Illinois]PEKIN Il.[Illinois]
1John W. Casey wrote and signed this letter, including the address on the fourth sheet, which was folded to create an envelope.
2William Shakespeare, Othello (ca. 1604), Act 1, Scene 3, Line 80.
William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Othello the Moor of Venice, ed. Russ McDonald (New York: Penguin), 19.
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 from citizens in Tazewell County 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, Casey, Samuel R. Baker, Edward Jones, 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.
William B. Doolittle to Abraham Lincoln; Robert W. Briggs to Abraham Lincoln; Richard T. Gill to Abraham Lincoln; Samuel R. Baker to Abraham Lincoln; Edward Jones 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 (Washington, DC: Gideon, 1849), 135; 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), 140; 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), 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.