Practically nonexistent partly-printed DS as president, signed “W. H. Harrison,” one page, 15.5 x 11.5, March 5, 1841. President Harrison appoints Kentucky lawyer and US Senator John J. Crittenden to the post of attorney general. In part: “That reposing special trust and confidence in the Integrity, Abilities, and Learning of John J. Crittenden of Kentucky, I have nominated, and, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, do appoint him Attorney General for The United States and do authorize and empower him to execute and fulfill the Duties of that Office according to law and to have and to hold the said Office with all the powers, privileges, and emoluments thereunto of right appertaining unto him, the said John J. Crittenden during the pleasure of the President of the United States.” Signed at the conclusion by Harrison and countersigned by Secretary of State Daniel Webster. The reverse bears a handwritten endorsement from Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story. Story writes: “City of Washington–for–on this eighth day of March In the year of our Lord one thousand and eight hundred & forty one personally appeared the within named John J. Crittenden & took & subscribed the oaths prescribed by the Constitution & Laws of the United States upon his acceptance of the office of Attorney General under the within commission. Before me Joseph Story one of the Justices of the Supreme Court of the U States.” Document is removably encapsulated in acid-free Mylar and in good to very good condition, with intersecting folds, portions of handwritten text traced over, other portions of text fairly light but still legible, scattered toning and dampstaining, primarily to edges and touching Webster’s signature, and Harrison’s signature several shades light, but still completely legible. The white wafer seal is toned and slightly worn, but intact.
When Harrison took the oath of office on March 4, 1841, one of his primary goals was to build his cabinet based on ability rather than partisanship. He resisted pressure from fellow Whigs attempting to assert their own choices for these crucial seats—especially Henry Clay—and made his own selections. Having outraged Clay by naming his rival Daniel Webster as secretary of state, Harrison did offer one concession: the appointment (by the document offered here) of Clay’s protege, Kentucky Senator John Crittenden, to the post of attorney general. Also endorsed by Joseph Story, the youngest Supreme Court justice, this document appoints a key player in American politics, who would remain as such until his death during the Civil War. With his presidency lasting only one month, anything signed by Harrison as Chief Executive is virtually unobtainable. Of the thirty that we have found in our current census, this appointment of Crittenden as Attorney General is by far the most important. A cornerstone for the finest of presidential collections! Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.