To James Speed 
Louisville, Ky Washington, Dec. 1. 1864
I appoint you to be Attorney General. Please come on at once.
 ALS, DNA WR RG 107, Presidential Telegrams, I, 253. James Speed replied on the same day: ``Will leave tomorrow for Washington'' (DLC-RTL). On November 24, 1864, Edward Bates submitted his letter of resignation as attorney general:
``For some months past, you have been aware of my desire to withdraw from the active labors & constant cares of the office which I hold by your favor.
``Heretofore, it has not been compatible with my ideas of duty to the public & fidelity to you, to leave my post of service for any private consideration, however urgent. Then, the fate of the nation hung, in doubt & gloom. Even your own fate, as identified with the nation, was a source of much anxiety. Now, on the contrary, the affairs of the Government display a brighter aspect; and to you, as head & leader of the Government, all the honor & good fortune that we hoped for, has come. And it seems to me, under these altered circumstances, that the time has come, when I may, without dereliction of duty, ask leave to retire to private life.
``In tendering the resignation of my office of Attorney General of the United States (which I now do) I gladly sieze the occasion to repeat the expression of my gratitude, not only for your good opinion which led to my appointment, but also for your uniform & unvarying courtesy & kindness during the whole time in which we have been associated in the public service. The memory of that kindness & personal favor, I shall bear with me into private life, and hope to retain it in my heart, as long as I live.
``Pray let my resignation take effect on the last day of November
``With heartfelt respect I remain your friend & servant'' (ibid.).
On November 30, Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt declined to accept appointment as Bates' successor: ``I have with your permission, held under consideration until this moment, the offer of the office of Attorney General of the U.States, so kindly made to me a few days since. The result is that after the most careful reflection, I have not been able to overcome the embarrassments referred to in our last interview, & which then disinclined me to accept, as theyPage 127 must now determine me respectfully to decline the appointment. . . . In view of all the circumstances, I am satisfied that I can serve you better in the position which I now hold at your hands. . . .'' (Ibid.).
On December 1, Holt recommended the appointment of James Speed: ``Referring to our conversation of yesterday, I beg to say that the opinion there expressed in regard to Mr S. remains unchanged. I can recall no public man in the State, of uncompromising loyalty, who unites in the same degree, the qualifications of professional attainments, fervent devotion to the union, & to the principles of your administration & spotless points of personal character. To these he adds---what I should deem indispensable---a warm & hearty friendship for yourself, personally & officially.'' (Ibid.).