TAYLOR, Zachary (1784-1850), President. Autograph letter signed ("Z. Taylor") as President, to an unidentified correspondent, "Washington City D.C.," 21 June 1849. 1 page, 8vo (8 x 4 15/16 in.), integral blank, very faint mat-burn.
AN AUTOGRAPH RARITY: PRESIDENT TAYLOR FROM OFFICE: "IN THE APPOINTMENTS REFERRED TO, I DO NOT MEDDLE OR INTERFERE"
A very rare autograph letter written by Taylor during his abbreviated term as president, informing an office-seeker that he avoids making political appointments. Taylor entered the presidency riding a wave of popularity: his victories in the Mexican War, a strong campaign waged by the Whig Party and a divided opposition gave Taylor a 140,000 vote majority over Democratic candidate Lewis Cass. As president, Taylor readily delegated authority to those around him and made it a point to eschew the traditional spoils of office in the form of appointments. "Taylor so despised patronage that he refused to participate in the distribution of offices to his friends, supporters, or deserving party faithful. He assigned that responsibility to his cabinet, the first time that a president had done so" (K. Bauer, Zachary Taylor, p. 259).
Here, Taylor denies a request for an appointment: "Your letter of the 19th, inst, asking to be employed in some capacity as clerk or messenger in some of the public offices or departments at this plac[e], was duly rec'd and I have to inform you in the appointments referred to, I do not meddle or interfere. They are made by the heads of the departments or bureaus to which they appertain. And I have also to state there is now no vacancy of any kind in my gift, of any offic[e] which I can bestow."
Taylor became ill in the summer of 1850 and died on July 9, just sixteen months after taking office. His short term and habit of utilizing a secretary to write most of his letters while in office makes his Presidential autograph letters quite rare. No example is featured in Charles Hamilton's American Autographs album, and one authority writes that "Taylor ranks behind only William Henry Harrison and Garfield in terms of the scarcity of his presidential autograph" (J. Taylor, From the White House Inkwell, p. 77). According to auction records, only two Taylor ALSs as President have been offered for sale in the last 25 years (the most recent, extending an invitation, with glue stains, was dated 20 March 1849 (sale, Smythe, 22 April 1999, $14,000)).