Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Governor William Wallace Makes His First Appointment, a Territorial Auditor

As noted before, the President of the United States, with the advice and consent of the Senate, appointed the Governor, Secretary, Chief and Associate Justices, Attorney, and Marshal for Idaho Territory. Section 7 of the Organic Act for the Territory stipulated that the Governor could “appoint all officers not herein otherwise provided for.”

Later, the Governor had to make these appointments “by and with the advice and consent of the legislative Council.” (The Territorial Council is roughly equivalent to the U. S. Senate.) But, to start out, “the governor alone may appoint all said officers.”

So, on July 23, 1863, Governor William Wallace appointed one John M. Bacon to be Territorial Auditor and Comptroller. Little is known about why Bacon was selected.

Born in Buffalo, New York, in 1822, John M. shipped as a hand on a whaler out of New Bedford, Massachusetts when he was seventeen years old. He spend five or six years at sea, visiting Bombay, London, and ports in China before returning to the United States. After a year with a brother in Illinois, he emigrated to Oregon in 1845.

Bacon tried his hand in California with the Forty-Niners, but ill health forced him to give that up. He farmed for awhile near Oregon City, but moved into town in 1856. There, he worked in a store that also served as agents for the Tracy & Company express firm. (We learned about Tracy & Co. earlier, on March 30.)

Gold again lured Bacon into a rush, this time into Idaho in 1862. For whatever reason, he soon turned to running a store in Lewiston, with some stock raising on the side. He was thus there when Wallace arrived and, for unknown reasons, chose him to fill the Auditor’s position.

His “term” lasted only two month, however. Benjamin F. Lamkin replaced him on September 23, well before the legislature met. Bacon was back in Oregon City by 1867. Lamkin was reappointed and confirmed during the legislative session and served as Auditor through 1866.

References: Elwood C. Evans, History of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon and Washington, 1889, North Pacific History Company, Portland, Oregon (1889).
John Hailey, History of Idaho, Syms-York Company, Boise, Idaho (1910).
Ben Ysursa, Idaho Blue Book, 2003-2004, The Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho (2003).

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