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Journalists reinventing themselves as public officials with insider status is nothing new. Such is the case, perhaps, of one John Nicolay, personal secretary to none other than Abraham Lincoln.

“Nicolay was a former journalist with the Pike County Sucker and Pittsfield Free Press and a clerk to the Illinois Secretary of State (where he was in charge of the election records) at the time of Lincoln’s nomination for president,” notes a historical account from the Lincoln Institute, a research organization. “He served as a one-man transition committee for the Lincolns’ move into the White House. Signing his appointment was President Lincoln’s first official act after inauguration.”