This letter deals with a very important but little understood aspect of nineteenth-century politics, namely, patronage. Before the advent of the Civil Service at the end of the century, most jobs in the federal government - from ambassador to file clerk - were filled by political appointment, and the scramble for office after a successful election could be unedifying and very intense.
Abraham Lincoln, autograph letter signed to William B. Preston
Springfield, 16 May 1849
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Abe Lincoln vs. Halliburtun
Rosenbach Museum & Library
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