25: Abraham Lincoln, 1861 Signed Appointment
1861 “Abraham Lincoln” Signed Presidential Appointment to the Supreme Court “for the Territory of Dakota”
ABRAHAM LINCOLN (February 12, 1809 - April 15, 1865). 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April of 1865.
June 18, 1861-Dated Civil War Period, Partially-Printed Document Signed, “Abraham Lincoln” as President, accomplished in manuscript on official paper, 1 page, at Washington, DC, Very Fine. Countersigned by “William H. Seward” as Secretary of State. This being an official Presidential Appointment, issued to Joseph L. Williams of Tennessee, as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court for the Territory of Dakota. This document is printed upon paper, laid down onto a heavy card backing for framing and display. There are expected folds, with small fold separation affecting the printed word "duties," with some modest central conservation and matted and framed to 19.5” x 23.5” for display. This very early 1861 “Abraham Lincoln” Signed Presidential Appointment to the Supreme Court “for the Territory of Dakota” presents well. Any such item for the “Territory of Dakota” at that time is extremely rare and desirable. The fully executed signature “Abraham Lincoln” is well below the lowest fold line. It has outstanding eye appeal being written in very deep bold brown and is particularly sharp and attractive.
William H. Seward was the unsuccessful Whig Candidate for Governor of New York in 1834, and served as Whig Governor of New York from 1838-1842. Elected as a Whig to the United States Senate in 1849, he was reelected as a Republican in 1855 and served from March 4, 1849, to March 3, 1861. He was the only Secretary of State in the Cabinets of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson 1861-1869. While Secretary of State concluded the convention with Great Britain for the settlement of the Alabama claims and the treaty with Russia for the purchase of Alaska.
On April 14, 1865, Lewis Powell, an associate of John Wilkes Booth, attempted to assassinate Seward, the same night that President Abraham Lincoln was shot. Powell gained access to Seward's home by telling a servant, William Bell, that he was delivering medicine for Seward, who was recovering from a recent near-fatal carriage accident on April 5, 1865. Powell started up the stairs when he was confronted by one of Seward's sons, Frederick. He told the intruder that his father was asleep and Powell began to start down the stairs, but suddenly swung around and pointed a gun at Frederick's head. After the gun misfired, Powell panicked, then repeatedly struck Frederick over the head with the pistol, leaving Frederick in critical condition on the floor.
Powell then burst into Secretary of State William H. Seward's bedroom with a bowie knife and stabbed him several times in the face and neck. During the attack Seward was wearing a jaw splint as a result of the carriage accident, and it is said that this saved his life. However, he carried the facial scars from the attack for the remainder of his life. Powell was captured the next day and was executed on July 7, 1865, along three other conspirators in the Lincoln assassination.
William H. Seward continued as Secretary of State in President Andrew Johnson's cabinet. Only FDR's Secretary of State Cordell Hull served longer.