This collection contains an invitation requesting the company of George C. Bestor, a businessman and civil servant from Peoria, Illinois, and his wife, Sarah, at Abraham Lincoln's second inauguration ball on March 4, 1865. It also includes a note written by Lincoln concerning a visit from Bestor on March 21, 1865.
George Clinton Bestor was born in Washington, D.C., on April 16, 1811. Bestor served as a page and Assistant Document Clerk in the United States House of Representatives as a young man, and then moved to Illinois in 1835, making a home in Peoria, Illinois. He worked in real estate and directed several railroad companies. He was also elected or chosen for several civil positions, including Trustee, Postmaster, and Mayor, all positions he held in Peoria. He was also elected to the Illinois Senate, serving from 1858 to 1862. A Whig and then a Republican, Bestor was a supporter of Abraham Lincoln's campaigns for United States Senator and for President, and the two developed a friendship. Bestor died in Washington, D.C., on May 14, 1872.
The printed invitation, addressed to Mr. and Mrs. George Bestor, requests the couple's company at Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural ball, which was held on March 4, 1865. The note, a memorandum written in Lincoln's hand, refers to a visit from Bestor on March 21, 1865, which may have been connected to a contract Bestor had with the federal government to build gunboats. The note indicated that Bestor should not return to the White House concerning the matter, as Lincoln wrote "I can do no better than I have already said."
A transcription of Lincoln's note can be found in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (edited by Roy P. Basler et al.) in Volume 8, on page 369. However, the transcription incorrectly identifies Bestor as "Benton." An online version of the transcription can be found through the online Collected Works: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/lincoln8/1:799?rgn=div1;view=fulltext.
The invitation and note were donated to the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections by Letha Gast in 2016.