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May 11, 1994

Ainsworth Rand Spofford's Appointment Certificate Donated to the Library of Congress

John Spofford Morgan, the great-grandson of Ainsworth Rand Spofford, Librarian of Congress in 1864-1897, presented his great-grandfather's certificate of appointment as Librarian of Congress to Librarian of Congress James H. Billington on May 2. The certificate, dated December 31, 1864, is signed by President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward.

"This is a wonderful way to begin our celebration of the reopening of the Jefferson Building and of the Library's bicentennial decade," said Dr. Billington in accepting the gift. He pointed out that it was Spofford who established the importance of the Library of Congress as a national institution by centralizing all U.S. copyright activity at the Library in 1870 and then by persuading Congress to build the Jefferson Building.

The wording of the certificate, which was mailed to Spofford from the Department of State on Jan. 3, 1865, is strikingly similar to the language on Dr. Billington's certificate of appointment. It reads:

Know Ye, That reposing special Trust and Confidence in the Integrity, Diligence and Discretion of Ainsworth Rand Spofford, of Ohio, I do appoint him Librarian, under the Act of Congress passed on the 26th day of January, 1802, entitled "An Act concerning the Library for the use of both Houses of Congress;" and do authorize and empower him to execute and fulfil (sic) the duties of that office according to law; and to Have to Hold the said office, with all the rights an emoluments thereunto legally appertaining; unto him the said Ainsworth Rand Spofford, during the pleasure of the President of the United States for the time being.

Twelve descendants of Spofford, in addition to Mr. Morgan, visited the Library for the presentation ceremony. They met with Spofford's biographer, John Y. Cole, director of the Center for the Book, and toured the Jefferson Building with Dr. Cole.

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PR 94-092
ISSN 0731-3527

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