Philo H. Thompson to Abraham Lincoln, 3 May 18491Pekin May 3– 1849Hon A– LincolnDr Sir
I enclose you, at the request of Mr King, a statement numerously signed by our citizens in relation to charges made against him. He desires me to say that if you deem it necessary he will forward you more names still, vindicating him from false charges. You will see that a large portion of the signatures are by our own citizens, by those who have known King long and well. Every Whig that has been asked, have signed cheerfully and quite a number of Democrats volunteered also to sign deeming it but a simple act of Justice to King.2
I have said in other letters to you, all that I deem necessary in relation to it.3 The appointment of King I have no hesitation in saying would be satisfactory to nine tenths of the Whigs of Tazewell– That something is due Tazewell for her uniform support of Whig men and measures is to me, and I trust to you a matter of no kind of doubt– Sangamon is too greedy now and always has been, for the honors and emoluments of office. If she persists in this course, the Whigs of Tazewell constituting as they do, the majority in this district, will feel a lukewarmness which may result in future defeat.
Hoping that you may be successful in this matter, and that Kings appointment may be made at once I remain Very TrulyYour friendP. H. Thompson4
2Turner R. King was seeking appointment to the U.S. General Office in Springfield, Illinois. Opponents of King’s appointment charged him with being an abolitionist, drunkard, and gambler.
3Between December 1848 and May 1849, Thompson wrote Abraham Lincoln three additional letters on King and his appointment.
4This letter and the enclosed petition represented the culmination of sorts of an extended controversy over King’s appointment--a controversy in which Lincoln became embroiled. In December 1848, Thompson wrote Lincoln urging him to help King. 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. Whigs in Springfield were upset that Lincoln had endorsed King for a plum patronage job instead of someone from Sangamon County. Hoping to scuttle King’s appointment, opponents cast 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 this letter. Between April 30 and May 7, Samuel R. 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 this letter, the other letters, 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; 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 (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, 1 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.