Signed Album 290+ Signatures: Lincoln, Johnson, Buchanan, Polk, J.Q. Adams & More!

An autograph album of the 30th United States Congress, containing signatures of five U.S. Presidents and then-Congressman Abraham Lincoln. Measuring 7.5" x 9", Washington, D.C., dated ca. 1847-48.  Original brown leather binding, stamped in gilt. The extremities are worn, with the spine perished. Front and rear covers starting. Loss at bottom corner of front cover. Otherwise soundly bound with bold signatures.

The album contains nearly 300 signatures of members of the executive and legislative branches of the United States government during James K. Polk's administration. Comprising 293 signatures on 33 leaves, rectos and versos, ranging between two to seven signatures per page. Significantly, this album is signed by five present, past, and future United States Presidents, including Polk, a young Abraham Lincoln during his only term as a United States Congressman, an elderly John Quincy Adams before his sudden death in February 1848, and future presidents James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson, presidential bookends of the Civil War. With 210 out of 230 members of the House of Representatives and 55 of 60 Senators. Also includes the signature of Anna Chase - wife of U.S. Consul to Mexico, Franklin Chase, and U.S. spy of Tampico - the only woman to sign this album.

Additional highlights include:

Jefferson Davis future President of the Confederacy. This is remarkable and the only example we have seen of two foes and leaders of opposing forces in the Civil War, Lincoln and Davis, signing contemporaneously the same item!

D.R. Atchison who some consider to be President for a day. On March 4, 1849, General Zachary Taylor refused to be inaugurated because it was a Sunday. As President Pro Tempore, and therefore Acting Vice President under the presidential succession law in place at the time, Atchison was believed by some to be Acting President. 

• The "Great Triumvirate" of Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and John C. Calhoun, three of Antebellum America's three most powerful politicians.
• Hannibal Hamlin, first Vice-President under Lincoln and then senator from Maine
• Joshua R. Giddings, leading abolitionist from Ohio, and co-sponsor with Lincoln during this term of a bill to end slavery
• Thomas Hart Benton, five-term Senator from Missouri and proponent of Westward Expansion
• Jefferson Davis, future President of the Confederate States and then senator from Mississippi.
• Robert Charles Winthrop, Speaker of the House and future Senator from Massachusetts
• Caleb B. Smith, future Secretary of the Interior
• David Wilmot, prime sponsor of the Wilmot Proviso during the contentious debates over slavery's expansion
• Robert C. Schenck, Union Army General and Minister to Great Britain
• William Strong, future Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
• Robert McClelland, future Governor of Michigan and Secretary of the Interior under Franklin Pierce; Kinsley S. Bingham, future 11th Governor of Michigan
• Alexander Stephens of Georgia, future Vice President of the Confederate States.

The 30th United States Congress sat from March 4, 1847, to March 4, 1849, a period covering the Mexican-American War and during a time of increasing sectional tension within the United States over the spread of slavery. It was during this time that future president Lincoln represented Illinois's 7th District--his only term in Congress and only time serving in the federal government before his ascension to the presidency. Of Illinois's seven members in the House, he was the only Whig and served on the House Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads and the Committee on Expenditures in the War Department (forerunner of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability). In early 1849 he and Joshua Giddings of Ohio (also a signer of this album) introduced a bill to end slavery in Washington, D.C., but it was tabled due to lack of support. In the coming decade, the debate over the spread of slavery would inflame American politics and divide the nation. The roster of politicians represented here portends this rupture that in 13 years time would, with the election of Lincoln as President, result in the Civil War. Many signers would take up arms against each other by serving either for the Union or the Confederacy, and critically, the three signatures of Buchanan, Lincoln, and Johnson, represent the years preceding, during, and after this conflict.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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September 6, 2023 11:00 AM EDT
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