This one’s particularly meaningful to me. Augustus Garland was the first Arkansan to hold a cabinet position, so this document made him the most powerful Arkansan ever up to that point, at least in terms of proximity to the president and succession to his office. Garland helped select the first president of my alma mater. Both my parents and I lived on Garland Avenue as students. A relative of mine recently bought the Garland House in Little Rock.

Cleveland nominated his cabinet the day after he was inaugurated. The malformed “6” you see is actually a “C” indicating that the Senate confirmed Garland. (This practice marred many a Gilded Age nomination.) The extra-wide-ruled paper is typical of nomination messages from this period. I intentionally chose not to flatten the document for this photo. After having been folded crisply, packed snugly with adjacent nominations, and sealed with red tape (see image below for an example), it resisted easy display. I won’t claim that no other human had previously seen this message for at least several years, but I’ll submit it as a possibility. The same “submission” will apply to many of the nominations I’ll post.

Garland was also a Confederate Senator, the Governor of Arkansas, a U.S. Senator, and a prominent Supreme Court advocate. He served the Confederacy reluctantly, and not before establishing himself as a vocal dissenter at Arkansas’ Secession Convention. By an Act of January 24, 1865, Congress made it impossible for anyone who had ever served the Confederacy in any capacity to argue cases in the federal courts. Rather than endure such a disability, Garland sought a presidential pardon, which Andrew Johnson granted on July 15, 1865. He soon challenged the January law as an unconstitutional bill of attainder and claimed that Johnson’s pardon would have relieved him of the burden of complying with it, anyhow. Garland actually argued his own case before the Supreme Court (evidence of prejudgment?) and won a narrow 5-4 victory. Justice Field’s opinion in Ex parte Garland struck down the Act as both a bill of attainder and an ex post facto law. Even were the loyalty oath tolerable on its own, “[i]t is not within the constitutional power of Congress thus to inflict punishment beyond the reach of executive clemency.”

A parting irony: Garland suffered the stroke that killed him while arguing a case before the Supreme Court.