DescriptionAbraham Lincoln Autograph Letter Signed. One page, one-sided, written on Delarue & Co./London blue-lined paper, 8" x 10", Springfield IL, December 15, 1849. At the time of this letter's writing, Lincoln had recently finished a somewhat lackluster single term as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and had returned to Springfield, determined to give up politics and focus his energies on his law practice.
His wish to leave politics behind was interrupted, however, by an April 25, 1849, letter from George W. Rives, a farmer from Paris, Illinois, who requested Lincoln's help in obtaining an appointment as an Indian Agent in Minnesota. Lincoln responded that Rives was surely overestimating Lincoln's influence, adding: "Not one man recommended by me has yet been appointed to anything, little or big, except a few who had no opposition
." At the time, Lincoln had been working to secure a different appointment in Minnesota for his close friend and personal doctor, Anson G. Henry, and was not amenable to making another such request in that state, and so declined Mr. Rives' request.
This did not deter Mr. Rives, however, as he wrote to Lincoln again on November 7, 1849, asking for a letter of recommendation. Unfortunately for Mr. Rives, comments he'd made against the former Congressman during the preceding summer got back to Lincoln, giving him even more reason to deny Rives' request. Lincoln's response to this letter was a bit coy, making sure Rives knew that Lincoln was displeased to be asked a favor by someone who'd said negative things about him. That letter reads, in part: "Last summer, under circumstances which I mentioned to you, I was painfully constrained to withhold a recommendation which you desired; and shortly afterwards I learned, in such a way as to believe it, that you were indulging in open abuse of me. Of course my feelings were wounded." Lincoln went on, however, to enclose the letter of recommendation Rives so desired.
Immediately thereafter, Lincoln wrote the letter offered here, addressed to Secretary of the Interior Thomas Ewing, a Whig politician from Ohio. It reads, in full: "Dear Sir, I understand Mr. G.W. Rives of Edgar County Ills. is an applicant for an Indian Agency; and I wish to say that, while I think that his appointment will be generally acceptable to the Whigs, it will be certainly gratifying to me. Your Obvt. Svt., A. Lincoln."
Lincoln surely was gratified by his magnanimity to Mr. Rives, particularly when Rives became an active supporter of Lincoln's bid for U.S. senate in 1858. Although Lincoln did not win that senate seat, he did receive a letter from Mr. Rives shortly thereafter, offering Lincoln "a word of consolation & comfort," and assuring him that "we stand ready to aid you in 1860. We are for You first & last. . . . No man never had Such friends in Edgar as you have! Can we do you any good? Command us & we will obey. We await your Command." Lincoln took Rives at his word, and following his election to the presidency in 1860, appointed Rives Assessor of Taxes for the Seventh Collection District of Illinois.
Lincoln's letter to Secretary Ewing was only recently discovered among a bundle of letters in an attic in Newport, Rhode Island. Stored with it was a letter from one George Barrett to his friend P.W Lippet, dated 1866, in which Barrett forwards the letter offered here as a memento following Lincoln's assassination. Barrett's letter is also included in this lot, accompanied by its original transmittal envelope. Barrett's letter is in fine condition; the envelope is very good.
The Lincoln letter itself is pristine, and serves as a wonderful example of the wisdom and generosity of our 16th president. Highly desirable and in very fine condition.
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