By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A rare historic letter written by Abraham Lincoln, at the time a Congressman from rural Illinois offering a patronage appointment, is being unveiled this afternoon in Philadelphia.

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Nathan Raab, operator of the Philadelphia-based Raab Collection, says the letter is dated Jan. 5, 1849. It was handwritten by then Congressman Abraham Lincoln to William Davis, a Springfield friend, who helped him develop a patented device for getting ships over shoals.

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Raab says Lincoln spelled out his intent to get Davis an appointment in the General Land office, the predecessor of the Bureau of Land Management.

“He supported Zachary Taylor for president and Taylor won. And Lincoln wanted to be able to spend some of that political capital by appointing some of his friends and bringing more of his colleagues into government,” Raab says.

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Raab says the confidential correspondence has been in the archives of an institution for many years and recently was offered to Raab for sale. The letter is priced at $40,000, and Raab says he expects it will generate interest among private collectors of Lincoln documents.

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