William H. Bissell to Abraham Lincoln, 19 March 18571Ex. Mansion,2
Mar. 19, 1857.Hon. A. Lincoln,Dear Sir:
It will give me pleasure to appoint Mr. Moffitt3 Public Administrator4 whenever I have the power— that is, whenever the present incumbent removes from the county, or, goes out of office by reason of expiration of his term.5
I do not suppose that I possess the power of removal in the case. Do you?6Yours Very TrulyWm H. Bissell
2The Executive Mansion of the governor of Illinois is located in Springfield.
Ann Liberman, Governors’ Mansions of the Midwest (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2003), 5-6.
3This is most likely James W. Moffett.
4Illinois law authorized the governor to appoint a public administrator for each county. When a person died intestate, or when a non-resident died intestate, leaving either goods or chattels, or rights and credits in the state, and with no widow, or next of kin, or creditors living in the state, the public administrator of the county where the person died administered the decedent’s estate. The term of office was four years.
“An Act to Fix the Tenure of Certain Officers,” 21 February 1843, Laws of Illinois (1843), 10; “Chapter CIX: Wills,” 3 March 1845, Revised Laws of Illinois (1845), 547-48.
5Thomas Lewis was the public administrator for Sangamon County in 1856.
Illinois Senate Journal. 1857. 20th G. A., 55; Illinois State Register (Springfield), 13 March 1856, 1:1.
6No response from Abraham Lincoln to Bissell has been found. Bissell did not appoint a new public administrator for Sangamon County in 1857, and there is no evidence that Moffett received appointment as a public administrator before his death in 1864.
Illinois Daily State Journal (Springfield), 20 September 1864, 2:4.
Autograph Letter Signed, 1 page(s), SC914-A, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).