The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 2 by Abraham Lincoln
To J. Gillespie.
Mr. Edwards is unquestionably offended with me in connection with the matter of the General Land-Office. He wrote a letter against me which was filed at the department.
The better part of one's life consists of his friendships; and, of them, mine with Mr. Edwards was one of the most cherished. I have not been false to it. At a word I could have had the office any time before the department was committed to Mr. Butterfield, at least Mr. Ewing and the President say as much. That word I forbore to speak, partly for other reasons, but chiefly for Mr. Edwards' sake, losing the office (that he might gain it) I was always for; but to lose his friendship, by the effort for him, would oppress me very much, were I not sustained by the utmost consciousness of rectitude. I first determined to be an applicant, unconditionally, on the 2nd of June; and I did so then upon being informed by a telegraphic despatch that the question was narrowed down to Mr. B and myself, and that the Cabinet had postponed the appointment three weeks, for my benefit. Not doubting that Mr. Edwards was wholly out of the question I, nevertheless, would not then have become an applicant had I supposed he would thereby be brought to suspect me of treachery to him. Two or three days afterwards a conversation with Levi Davis convinced me Mr. Edwards was dissatisfied; but I was then too far in to get out. His own letter, written on the 25th of April, after I had fully informed him of all that had passed, up to within a few days of that time, gave assurance I had that entire confidence from him which I felt my uniform and strong friendship for him entitled me to. Among other things it says, "Whatever course your judgment may dictate as proper to be pursued, shall never be excepted to by me." I also had had a letter from Washington, saying Chambers, of the Republic, had brought a rumor then, that Mr. E had declined in my favor, which rumor I judged came from Mr. E himself, as I had not then breathed of his letter to any living creature. In saying I had never, before the 2nd of June, determined to be an applicant, unconditionally, I mean to admit that, before then, I had said substantially I would take the office rather than it should be lost to the State, or given to one in the State whom the Whigs did not want; but I aver that in every instance in which I spoke of myself, I intended to keep, and now believe I did keep, Mr. E above myself. Mr. Edwards' first suspicion was that I had allowed Baker to overreach me, as his friend, in behalf of Don Morrison. I knew this was a mistake; and the result has proved it. I understand his view now is, that if I had gone to open war with Baker I could have ridden him down, and had the thing all my own way. I believe no such thing. With Baker and some strong man from the Military tract & elsewhere for Morrison, and we and some strong man from the Wabash & elsewhere for Mr. E, it was not possible for either to succeed. I believed this in March, and I know it now. The only thing which gave either any chance was the very thing Baker & I proposed,--an adjustment with themselves.
You may wish to know how Butterfield finally beat me. I can not tell you particulars now, but will when I see you. In the meantime let it be understood I am not greatly dissatisfied,--I wish the offer had been so bestowed as to encourage our friends in future contests, and I regret exceedingly Mr. Edwards' feelings towards me. These two things away, I should have no regrets,--at least I think I would not.
Write me soon.
Your friend, as ever,