HARRISON, Benjamin (1833-1901), President. Partly printed document signed ("Benjamin Harrison") as President, countersigned by outgoing Secretary of State Thomas F. Bayard (1828-1898), Washington, D.C., 5 March 1889. 1 page, oblong folio (22½ x 18¾ in.), finely engraved in an elegant italic hand and printed on heavy, parchment-like paper, large scallop-edged seal of the United States, neatly accomplished in manuscript, small tear top right margin, minor staining at extreme edges, small circular stain top right.
PRESIDENT HARRISON NAMES JAMES G. BLAINE (THE UNSUCCESSFUL 1884 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE) SECRETARY OF STATE
One day after his inauguration as President, Harrison signs the unusually large document appointing James G. Blaine (1830-1893) to the post of Secretary of State, a post Blaine had previously held briefly in the administrations of James Garfield and Chester Arthur (March-December 1881). Blaine, a Senator from Maine, was a contender for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1876 and again in 1880 (Democrats mocked his ties to railroad interests with the chant "Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine! Continental liar from the state of Maine!"). Late in that campaign, when a Protestant supporter publicly labeled the Democrats as the party of "Rum, Romanism and Rebellion," Blaine unwisely let the remark go unchallenged, costing him critical votes among the large Irish catholic community. In 1888, Blaine, recognizing his liabilities as a candidate, declined to seek the Presidential nomination in favor of Harrison, who appeared to be his party's best hope to defeat the incumbent Cleveland. At the Republican Convention in June 1888 and during the campaign itself Blaine worked tirelessly to promote Harrison, who won office by garnering 233 votes in the electoral college to Cleveland's 169 (in spite of the fact that Cleveland had won a popular plurality of 100,000 votes).
Blaine's appointment, confirmed by this document, clearly represented a reward for his political support, but in the end he proved a very able Secretary of State. In addition to negotiating a treaty protecting the seal population of the Pribilof Islands, he was largely responsible for the creation of the Pan-American Congress, held in October 1889 at Washington, D.C. and for other diplomatic inititives in Latin America.
A rare, high-level Presidential appointment: no other appointment to the post of Secretary of State has been offered at auction in at least the last 25 years.