Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 2.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

To Thomas Ewing [1]

Hon: Secretary of the Interior--- Springfield, Ills.
Dear Sir: May 10th. 1849

I regret troubling you so often in relation to the Land Offices here; but I hope you will perceive the necessity of it, and excuse me. On the 7th. April I wrote you recommending Turner R. King for Register, and Walter Davis for Receiver. Subsequently IPage  47 wrote you that, for a private reason, I had concluded to transpose them. That private reason was the request of an old personal friend, [2] who himself desired to be Receiver, but whom I felt it my duty to refuse a recommendation. He said if I would transpose King & Davis, he would be satisfied; I thought it a whim, but anxious to oblige him, I consented. Immediately he commenced an assault upon King's character, intending as I suppose, to defeat his appointment, and thereby secure another chance for himself. This double offence of bad faith to me, and slander upon a good man, is so totally outrageous, that I now ask to have King and Davis placed as I originally recommended---that is, King for Register and Davis for Receiver.

An effort is being made now to have Mr. Barret [sic], the present Register, retained. I have already said he has done the duties of the office well; and I now add he is a gentleman in the true sense. Still he submits to be the instrument of his party to injure us. His high character enables him to do this more effectually. Last year he presided at the convention which nominated the democratic candidate for congress in this District; and afterwards ran for the state Senate himself, not desiring the seat, but avowedly to aid and strengthen his party. He made speech after speech, with a degree of fierceness and coarseness, against Gen: Taylor, not quite consistent with his habitually gentlemanly deportment. At least one (& I think more) of those who are now trying to have him retained, was himself an applicant for this very office; and failing to get my recommendation, now takes this turn.

In writing you a third time in relation to these offices, I stated that I supposed charges had been forwarded to you against King, and that I would enquire into the truth of them. I now send you herewith what I suppose will be an ample defence against any such charges. I ask attention to all the papers, but particularly to the letter of Mr. David Mark [3] & the paper with the long list of names. There is no mistake about King's being a good man. [4] After the unjust assault upon him, and considering the just claims of Tazewell county, as indicated in the letters I enclose you, it would, in my opinion, be injustice, and withall, a blunder, not to appoint him, at least as soon as any one is appointed to either of the offices here. Your Obt. Servt. A. LINCOLN


[1]   ALS, DNA NR RG 48, Appointments; copy, DLC-RTL.

[2]   See the letters to Ewing written on April 7 (supra). Presumably Lincoln refers to William Butler, who wanted the receivership, but was recommended for pension agent. Herndon relates (Herndon to Weik, January 15, 1886, DLC-HW) that as a result of this disagreement Butler and Lincoln did not speak for years.

[3]   David Mark was a resident of Pekin, Illinois, King's home.

[4]   See letter to Philo H. Thompson of April 25 (supra).