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The Lincoln Proclamation and Deloitte’s legacy of multigenerational service

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President Abraham Lincoln is the signatory of one of Deloitte’s most valuable artifacts: The Lincoln Proclamation.

In July 1864, Elijah Sells, the father of Deloitte founder Elijah W. Sells, was appointed as the third auditor of the Treasury of the United States by President Lincoln. The following year, he was appointed auditor of the US Post Office. Both honors were preserved for posterity in proclamations by President Lincoln.

The elder Sells shared his passion for accounting and public service with his son. In addition to cofounding Haskins & Sells, Elijah W. Sells contributed to the modernization of the US Treasury as a member of the Dockery Commission in 1893, and formulated a plan for world peace in 1915 that foreshadowed the League of Nations and United Nations.

The Sells family wasn’t the only branch in Deloitte’s family tree with notable contributions to the accounting profession and the greater good. Howard Irwin Ross, a third-generation accountant and partner in the Deloitte predecessor firm P.S. Ross & Sons from 1942 to 1969, was descended from Philip S. Ross, the firm’s founder; and Suheil Saba, son of Deloitte Middle East founder Fuad Saba, became a managing partner of Saba & Co. in 1976 and carried forward his father’s legacy of international expansion.

Another legacy organization has a similar story. John Ballantine Niven was a second-generation accountant who joined George A. Touche in 1900 to establish Touche, Niven & Co.. Today, George Touche’s great-grandson, William Touche, is senior audit partner and vice-chair of Deloitte UK, and his great-great-grandson Harry is a senior consultant with Deloitte Digital in the UK.

The Lincoln Proclamation serves as a powerful reminder of Deloitte’s history of multigenerational service to the accounting profession—steeped in shared values and tradition, but always looking forward and anticipating clients’ next challenge.

The Lincoln Proclamation appointing Elijah W. Sells Sr. as third auditor of the US Treasury.

Know Ye: That reposing special trust and confidence in the Integrity and Ability of Elijah Sells do appoint him to be Third Auditor of the Treasury of the United States and do authorize and empower him to execute and fulfill the duties of that office.

- President Abraham Lincoln, about the father of Haskins & Sells cofounder Elijah W. Sells, 1864

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