As the Idaho State Historical Society began its budget presentation this morning, JFAC Co-Chair Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, told director Janet Gallimore, “I never know quite what you’re going to bring, but it gets better every year.” The Historical Society was founded in 1881 and established as a state agency in 1907; it’s busy this year with the Idaho Territorial Sesquicentennial, the 150th anniversary of the creation of Idaho Territory on March 4, 1863.
In line with that, Gallimore brought a rare and significant historical document to display to the committee. “This piece is the actual document of Lincoln’s appointment of William Wallace as our first territorial governor,” she told the committee. “I think that this document speaks volumes. It’s an amazing piece.”
The document is two-sided; on one side is the formal appointment, signed by President Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward; on the other, Wallace certifies that he’s not affiliated with the confederate states.
Gallimore said Wallace treasured the document and kept it after his service as Idaho’s territorial governor; it remained in his family for many years, but in 1982, his descendants in Virginia donated it to the state of Idaho for preservation by the Historical Society. Wallace selected Lewiston as Idaho’s first capital in 1863; that note prompted Rep. Thyra Stevenson, R-Lewiston, to inquire as to when the state seal would be returning there. At that point, Bell adjourned the JFAC meeting, and lawmakers gathered around for a close-up view of the historic document.