Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 2.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
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To Thomas Ewing [1]

Springfield, Ills. July 9. 1849

Hon. Secretary of the Interior

Dear Sir

The day after the appointment of Mr. Butterfield [2] as Commissioner of the General Land Office, you at my request delivered to me the papers on file in my favor for the same office. They were handed me in a package sealed up; and I did not open them till yesterday. I was surprised to find amongst them no letter from Hon. R.W. Thompson or Hon. Elisha Embree, [3] later whig members of Congress from two of the Wabash districts in Indiana. Both those gentlemen had informed me by letters, that they had written the President in my behalf, and had sent me copies their letters to him which copies I had at Washington and still have. I would have filed the copies only that I was told by Mr. Caffee or Mr. Anderson [4] (I forget which) that the originals were on file already. Something of the contents of one of them was mentioned by my informant which corresponding with my copy left me in no doubt that he had really seen the original. I write this to ascertain, if I can, how those originals got off the file and to have them sent me, if they can be found. I relied upon and valued, them more than any other two letters I had, because of the high standing of the writers, because of the location within the Public Land states, and because they did (what few other members could) speak of my character and standing at home. On discovering they were missing from the file, a remark of Judge Collamer [5] occurred to me. On the same afternoon [6] of the appointment he said to me that Mr. B. appeared to be better recommended from the Public Land states than I. I felt sure he was [mis]taken; yet, never disposed to wrestle with the court after the case is decided, I made no reply. If these letters were not before the Cabinet the Judge was nearer right than I supposed. With them I had the State of Indiana clearly; without them Mr. B. had it. The letter of Mr. Thompson was a recantation from Mr. B. to me; so that without it, I not only lost him, but he stood in full life, recommending Mr. B. I show the exact bearing of these letters as an excuse for my anxiety to know how they in particular happen to be missing. One other letter, which I supposed to be on file, I do not find, but I have not so great certainty it ever was filed.

Will you please write me on receipt of this? Your Obt Servt



[1]   Facsimile in Sale Catalog, Paul Richards Autograph Catalogue 84 (April 1978): 12-13. With filing note ``Answered July 18, 1849'' in Ewing's hand. Reply not found.

[2]   Justin Butterfield was a leading jurist from Chicago.

[3]   Richard Wigginton Thompson and Elisha Embree served as Representatives from Indiana in the Thirtieth Congress (March 4, 1847-March 3, 1849) with Lincoln.

[4]   Caffee and Anderson were probably clerks in the Interior Department.

[5]   Jacob Collamer served as a judge to the superior court in Vermont before being elected as a U.S. Representative (March 4, 1843-March 3, 1849).

[6]   The word ``evening'' deleted and the word ``afternoon'' written above it.

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