151. Joshua F. Speed to William H. Herndon.
Louisville 14 Feby 1866.
Dear Sir —
I am glad to learn that Mr Lincoln made sustantially the same remark to you that he did to me. This connected with his allusion to me after his emancipation proclamation, as that being the fulfilment of his long cherished hope should I think be incorporated in his life — It was the fulfilment a day dream long indulged in — which few men live to realize —
Mr Lincoln was thought by many of his friends to have been a selfish man —
I propose giving you some evidence of his generosity and want of selfishness —
While Mr L was a member of Congress — and in Washington I was a member of the Kentucky Legislature in Frankfort —
Mr Crittenden was Governor. Gen'l Taylor was President — Governor Crittendens influence with Genl Taylor was thought to be very great — I received a letter from Lincoln stating that Baker was in Washington and desired to apply for a first class foreign Mission and that he wished me to try and get Governor Crittendens recommendation of Baker for such an appointment. I was requested not to apply for a recommendation but to see Gov Crittenden and in my own way ascertain what could be done — I have no copy of my reply to Lincolns letter — But I remember its substance and have his reply — to mine — I informed him that I had sought a private interview Mr C. and urged that in view of the great importance of securing the growing State of Illinois to the Whig party — I thought it would be well for Genl Taylor to confer upon some leading man of the party in the State a foreign Mission — adding that on general principles a man who was a Whig in Ills was a better Whig than one in Kentucky — In Ills a man had to fight
213against a majority — whereas in Ky he fought with a majority — "Mr C. denied that there could be in the world a better Whig than a Kentucky whig — But said he we wont dispute on that point — I see that the great North west is to be a power in the land & that Illinois will be the first State among them — and that as a tactician — if (we the Whigs) could gain strength there by giving a foreign mission to some of our own friends, he thought that it would be well to do so — "
I then ventured to speak of Baker — in very flattering terms — Mr Crittenden replied that he knew Baker & as was not very favorably impressed from his limited acquaintance — There said he is Lincoln, whom I regard as a rising man if he were an applicant I would go for him —
I wrote to Lincoln advising of all that was said — and have his reply — He expresses himself as very much obliged to Mr C for his favorable opinion of him —
I had intimated to him in my letter that if Mr Cs recommendation was of such value as he & Baker both supposed it was — Why not apply himself — ?
In his reply he says I have pledged myself to Baker & can not under any circumstances consent to the use of my name so long as his is urged for the same place — .
J. F. Speed
Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 2494 — 96; Huntington Library: LN2408, 2:327 — 29