Thomas Ewing to Unknown, 25 September 18491
Telegraph Office
cor.[corner] 4 ½ st.[street] & Pa.[Pennsylvania] avenue
"Is Mr Lincoln in Springfield? The President wishes to hear from him immediately.2
T. Ewing"
Charge despatch & answer to Dept.[Department] of the Interior.
1This telegram is attributed to Secretary of the Interior Thomas Ewing but is not written in Ewing’s hand. On September 20, 1849, Ewing sent Abraham Lincoln a telegram in Springfield, Illinois while Lincoln was in Tremont, Illinois, informing him of his appointment as governor of the Oregon Territory. This telegram has not been located. But, as Lincoln explained in a letter dated September 23, he asked a friend in Springfield to reply to Ewing immediately via telegraph declining the position. That friend did not telegraph Ewing as requested, fearing Lincoln was declining the position in haste. This led Ewing to send this telegram to Springfield, asking whether Lincoln was in town to respond. The recipient of this telegram is unknown, but once Lincoln learned of this telegram he traveled back to Springfield, sent a telegram to Ewing himself, and wrote Ewing a letter explaining this sequence of events.
The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 20 September 1849,; 25 September 1849,; Paul I. Miller, “Lincoln and the Governorship of Oregon,” The Mississippi Valley Historical Review 23 (December 1936), 392-93.
2Prior to offering Lincoln appointment as governor of the Oregon Territory, President Zachary Taylor’s administration had offered Lincoln appointment as secretary of the Oregon Territory, an appointment which Lincoln also declined. The administration offered Lincoln both positions soon after Taylor appointed Justin H. Butterfield commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office, a position Lincoln had sought after learning that Butterfield was favored for the job. See the General Land Office Affair. As Lincoln explained in a May 16, 1849 letter to William B. Preston, he believed the appointment of Butterfield to such a valuable patronage position would represent an affront to Whigs of Illinois who had worked so hard to get Taylor nominated and elected president. Many Illinois Whigs were indeed upset by Butterfield’s appointment and criticized both Taylor and Ewing. The administration hoped that by offering Lincoln a political appointment in the Oregon Territory, it would appease any angry Illinois Whigs and prevent additional attacks upon Butterfield’s appointment. Lincoln seriously considered accepting the governorship of the Oregon Territory, but ultimately declined the position, at least in part because Mary Lincoln had no desire to live in such a remote location. In the end, Taylor appointed Edward Hamilton of Ohio secretary of the Oregon Territory and John P. Gaines of Virginia governor of the Oregon Territory.
Appointment of Abraham Lincoln as Secretary of the Territory of Oregon; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:306-7; 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), 250.

Handwritten Transcription, 1 page(s), Volume Vol. 1, 12, RG 48, Entry 186: Records of the Patents and Miscellaneous Division 1813-1943 General Records 1813-1926, Miscellaneous Letters Sent, NACP.