Albany, NY: August 29, 1964. 9.125" x 5.5", 3 pp. ALS on folded stationary, docketed on rear. Usual mail folds, two ink spots on rear bottom right away from any text. Content: Senator Harris expresses extreme displeasure to the Secretary of the Treasury reference the dismissal of one of his loyal patronage appointments. Harris had a noted reputation of freely speaking his opinions.
Ira Harris (1802-1875) New York Senator Ira Harris was among President Lincoln’s “most frequent evening visitors,” wrote Lincoln biographer Benjamin Thomas. His frequent presence made him privy to the President’s patronage — so much so that the President once claimed that he looked underneath his bed each night to check if Senator Harris was there, seeking another patronage favor. Harris was said to “had served a nondescript, middling term through the most exciting period in American history.” In February 1861, Harris was elected a U.S. Senator from New York to succeed William H. Seward who did not seek re-election, but would be appointed U.S. Secretary of State by Lincoln. His daughter Clara Harris and his stepson/future son-in-law Henry Rathbone were the Lincolns' guests at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865, when the president was shot and killed by John Wilkes Booth. Booth stabbed Rathbone in the arm when he tried to stop the assassin from escaping. Clara and Henry were married in 1867, but were also step siblings – Harris had remarried to Pauline Rathbone, Henry's mother. Item #1501
Albany August 29 1864
My dear sir I had just learned, to my great surprise, that Isaac O Hunt had been removed from office as an appraiser. Unless there is some cause for his removal that has never come to my knowledge, it is a serious mistake. We have very few a sufficient Republic is in any branch of the custom house and he was among the best. I can’t let things that some maligned influence has brought about his removal. He was, I think, the only man connected with the revenue department who was associated appointed upon my recommendation and there are several reasons, which at another time I may explain to you why I feel a little sensitive on the subject of his removal.
But though I am not satisfied I cannot go but that you have acted according to all your best judgment. I am not disposed to blame you at all. Who demand is who takes his place I do not know nor from who’s recommendation or by what influence he succeeds in the affirmative. This does not so much concern me. Of course, it is too late to reinstate Hunt even if you could be satisfied a mistake had been made. Perhaps it is asking too much but I would very much like to know the grounds upon which his removal has been made.
There are Democrats in that office who ought to have been removed one ago but they have been less there by some mysterious influence which seems to control some other things in that department very much to the detriment of our political interests in this state. Had one of the Democrats been displaced instead of one of our true friends it would have been more generally approved. Yours and with esteem, Ira Harris
Addressed to The Honorable William P. Fessenden, Secretary of the Treasury.