Presidents and Political Leaders

Listings shown are sorted alphabetically.

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Suggestions for reorganizing the Merchant Marines

A significant letter as Sec. of Commerce on the reorganization of the Merchant Marine and protection of commerce through U.S. shipping. The four page letter, Nov. 4, 1925 responds to Rep. Wallace White of the House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries seeking Hoover’s views. Hoover outlines 16 points that should guide a re-organization. The letter is in fine condition with some staple holes in the blank corner and a pencil notation, apparently by White, that this was a draft response which Hoover revised. After leaving office he would head up an important review of the Executive Branch and re-organization of the federal bureaucracy under President Truman. This is one of the better-and longer- Hoover letters to be found, offering detailed analysis of his approach to a regulatory and administrative problem.

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Signed album page “B.K. Bruce Miss”. Bruce was a former slave who went on to become the first African-American to serve a full term in the United States Senate. There is a portion of a small newspaper article pasted down to the page. Bruce is not an easy signature to find and most seem to be on documents rather than anything from the Senate. [#4746]

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Executive Mansion card
First Lady

Executive Mansion card signed "Frances F. Cleveland". The card measures approximately
4 1/2 x 2 3/4. The First Lady has signed in a brown ink. The card is in excellent condition.

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Grant's Vice President ALS with free frank

Schuyler Colfax, Grant's Vice President, ALS declining an invitation with a free frank as Speaker of the House, although the letter is on stationary of the HQ of the Army. [#3645]

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Calvin Coolidge signed White House card, generally clean. [#4875]

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Calvin Coolidge- commission of Charles J. Pisar to the Foreign Service Corp. The oversized commission is dated June 3, 1924 and countersigned by Sec. of State Charles E. Hughes. Unlike the other pieces in the Bush collection this document appears firmly pasted down and unlikely to be removed from the backing, not unusual as recipients typically framed their appointments. Pisar was a career diplomat who served between 1916-1943 in Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Rangoon, Salonika and Liverpool. (31.5 x $450

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Charles Curtis LS as Hoover’s vice president and first person of American Indian descent (1/4 Kaw) to be elected vice president. Curtis sends King Hostick two signed envelopes (not present). Hostick was a pioneering collector of the early 20th Century, amassing a huge collection largely by writing to people. [#4484]

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U.S. Grant's Sec. of Interior

Columbus Delano SP, CDV with an Alexander Gardner back stamp, signed on the mount “C Delano/Ohio”. Delano was a Congressman from Ohio who served as Sec. of the Interior under Grant. [#4923]

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Ike criticizes JFK on the Bay of Pogs

Ike unloads a stinging critique of Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs
Eisenhower, Dwight - three page LS, “Ike” Feb. 16, 1963 on personal stationary from Palm Desert, CA to Lewis Strauss, Ike’s Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. The heart of the letter and the longest section relates to the apparent payment of ransom for survivors of the “Bay of Pigs fiasco”. In part: “While the Administration has tried to avoid any admission of a blunder in that unhappy incident, the fact that it twice tried to arrange through allegedly private sources for the ransom ….. shows not only that it had a very definite responsibility in the matter but is trying to remove this very sensitive item from memory of the public.” In a sarcastic reference to his successor he adds: “The Frontiersmen not only operate roughly, they do so on the theory that the hand is quicker than the eye.”

This remarkable letter, rich in content, touches on several other topics including the future of atomic energy: “I have no doubt that some day the cost [of nuclear power] will be competitive with coal and water power”; the politically controversial Dixon-Yates contract for a power plant contract: “I think the Supreme Court blundered in reversing that decision on [a] technicality”; some of the contradictions in JFK’s speeches “from the late 1950’s to the very present that are contradictory one with the other”; an attack by JFK on Strauss -- “The statement he made ….is taken by you I am sure as a definite compliment.”; the difficulty of vacationing when people know he winters in Palm Desert “there are more excuses than you can imagine for me some place to ‘say a few words.’ The letter has some inconsequential staple holes but is in excellent condition. One of the finest political letters from Eisenhower to be found and rarely seen criticism of another president’s foreign policy. (Forbes collection)

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On the health of Webster's predecessor in the Senate
Statesman and 1860 Vice Presidential candidate

Autograph letter signed, Washington, February 4, 1827, one page on a folded four page sheet with franked cover addressed to General H.A. A. Dearborn.

Everett, then serving as a Representative from Massachusetts, reports on events in Congress including legislation on bankruptcy and an apparent effort to provide some job or appointment for retiring Massachusetts Senator Elijah Hunt Mills. “E. H. Mills appears to be gaining strength in the house. I wait with anxiety to hear from the Senate. I fear these efforts of his friends will be unavailing even if successful. His health does not I think promise him the Continuance of a capacity to work, if it does of life.” Mills was elected to fill a vacancy in the Senate and then won a term of his own in 1820. He lost re-election in 1826 to fellow Federalist Daniel Webster. His term ended in March 1827, a month after Everett’s letter, and he died two years later. His health did keep him from ever seeking public office again.

Henry A. S. Dearborn was an officer in the War of 1812, helping defend Boston Harbor. He held several local positions including the politically important post of Collector of Customs for Boston when he received this letter. In the following few years he would be elected to the state Legislature and then the U.S. House of Representative. His father was Revolutionary War General Henry Dearborn who also served as Jefferson’s Secretary of War. The file docket on the back panel above the wax seal is almost certainly in his hand.

Everett was one of the leading orators in America in the mid 1800’s when public oratory was in high gear as a combination of entertainment and intellectual pursuit. For all of his contemporary fame, power and success he is perhaps best remembered today as a man who twice played a minor supporting role in Abraham Lincoln’s political life. In 1860 Everett was the unsuccessful candidate for Vice President with John Bell as the Presidential nominee on the Constitutional Union ticket. One of four parties on the ballot that year, the Bell-Everett ticket came in third winning only 39 of the 303 electoral votes. In 1863 Everett delivered the main address at the dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg. The dedication was moved back from a planned September date to November to allow Everett the extra time to prepare his important address.

Folds, with some separation beginning at one fold, a pencil docket in the top left margin and some loss of paper above the address panel of the back page. [#1865]

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early check by the "main" orator at Gettysburg dedication

Edward Everett; Statesman, Governor or Massachusetts, “main” orator at Gettysburg dedication. Signed check for 2 dollars on March 19, 1827 at the start of his second term in Congress. The check is payable to the bearer, most likely himself. Small cancellation marks away from the signature. [# 4779]

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Charles Fairbanks --Vice President under Theodore Roosevelt. Two page ALS on Vice President stationary April 18, 1905. Fairbanks invites former Congressman and Diplomat John A. Kasson to visit him and Mrs. Fairbanks. The original handwritten envelope is included. Fairbanks is uncommon in letters while VP. [#4788]

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Fillmore, Millard nice large 3.5 x 2.5 clip, probably from an album page, “Millard Fillmore/ July 18,1866”. Framed with an engraving and medallion. (17 x 14)

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3 weeks after becoming Vice-President

Gerald R. Ford rare and unusual handwritten letter as the new Vice President on his outdated Congressional stationary sending an uncommon signed Vice President signature card. The letter is dated Dec. 26th and Ford notes that he is without a secretary in Vail so his reply is “ by my own bad handwriting.” In the letter he apologizes for the “out-dated letterhead” a sign of how recently he became Vice President. He signed the letter only with a “J” and the card “Jerry Ford”.

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Ford welcomes Party unity after '76 GOP nomination win against Reagan
38th President

Gerald Ford signed letter, one page, The White House, August 30, 1976. Two weeks before this letter, Ford had narrowly defeated Ronald Reagan for the Republican nomination. California Congressman Del Clawson sent the President a pledge of support to Ford after the convention.

Party unity was essential if Ford was going to have any chance in the general election, particularly in California. Ford is quick and gracious to reach out to his former House colleague Del Clawson who voted for fellow Californian Ronald Reagan. "Thank you so much for your warm message of congratulations and support. It is reassuring to know that your confidence and loyalty will be reflected in the total team effort which will bring us to victory on November 2."

The 1976 Republican National Convention was the last meaningful convention to actually determined the outcome of a presidential nomination. Reagan had challenged the incumbent president for the nomination. Ford went into the convention with a lead in pledged delegates but he did not have a majority. The lead-up to convention balloting included intense personal cajoling and pressure from both camps. A key procedural Floor vote went Ford's way creating the momentum for the actual nomination win of 1,187 votes to Reagan's 1,070.

Ford, of course lost the general election to Jimmy Carter. Four years later Carter faced his own party fight when he was challenged by Senator Ted Kennedy for the nomination. That fight was over before the convention but he had to face Reagan in the general election. Reagan and Ford had flirted with teaming up in 1980, with Ford running as Reagan's vice presidential running mate. It is arguable that Ford's convention victory of Reagan, referenced in this letter, paved the way for a stronger Reagan candidacy in 1980 that ushered the Reagan era.

Del Clawson was a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, one of the first Mormon's to serve in Congress outside of Utah. He was a member of the House from 1963-to 1978.

The letter is in excellent, fresh condition with an inconspicuous single envelope fold. It is accompanied by the original unstamped White House envelope, indicating that the personal message from the President was hand-delivered to the Congressman's office. It is boldly signed in a heavy black ink "Jerry Ford". This is a very desirable Presidential letter referencing the last great convention fight for a presidential nomination. Although it does not mention Reagan by name it is also a wonderful association piece for Reagan collectors. [#3019]

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letter to Opera star Geraldine Farrer

Herbert Hoover signed letter 2/26/63 on personal stationary to opera star Geraldine Farrer paying tribute but politely declining an invitation to a celebration of her 8oth Birthday. Farrer was a major opera star in the first quarter of the 20th Century. A somewhat touching letter between two celebrities of their day’s, which had passed decades earlier. Hoover’s signature is shaky, showing his age and declining strength in the final year or two of his life. This has much better association than most Hoover letters—which typically have none.

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Hughes receives the Theodore Roosevelt medal

Chief Justice, Sec. of State, Presidential candidate. Signed letter 10/3/28 to George Kunz acknowledging congratulations on his being awarded the Theodore Roosevelt Distinguished Service Medal for 1928. [#4604]

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Four Language paper for a Whaling voyage out of New Bedford

Andrew Jackson a four language ship’s paper for a whaling voyage out of New Bedford, MA in 1835. A white paper in generally fresh condition with two small stains near the large 6.5” signature.

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Scarce diplomatic appointment signed as President

Andrew Johnson and Sec. of State William H. Seward, scarce diplomatic appointment, Nov. 1866, of Edward Lee Plumb of New York as Secretary of the US Legation in Mexico. Johnson’s signature is a bit light on a few strokes from a dry pen but he adds a somewhat unusual large paraph to his signature. It has been nicely framed with double matting and generally fine condition. Most of Johnson’s presidential appointments and commissions bear his metal stamp signature. This is an attractive example of a genuinely signed document. [#4815]

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desriable White House letter as First Lady

Lady Bird Johnson signed letter as First Lady with a holograph salutation. The First Lady thanks Gerald Wagner for a white orchid and a United Nations concert. She has crossed out the formal salutation and handwritten “Gerry” as well as signing the letter in full “Lady Bird Johnson”. The letter is on White House stationary with the blind embossed presidential seal. The October 23, 1968 letter was written just two weeks before the election of Richard Nixon and the start of her transition back to private life. There is a stamped docket on the reverse of the letter. Although not a rare autograph, Lady Bird’s autographs as First Lady are seen less often than other periods and her White House letters are desirable. [# 4225]

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Signed letter on Senate stationary 11/2/67 to Robert Wykle of the Wayne County, NY Dem. Committee thanking him for some apples. Signed "Bob". [#4687]

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Cleveland's Secretary of War

Daniel Lamont, Secretary of War in Grover Cleveland’s second term. Cabinet photo by Sarony of NY signed “Very Truly yours Daniel S. Lamont”. [#4915]

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Early legal document signed twice

William McKinley - partial but lengthy early ADS, Oct. 22, 1875. McKinley has signed twice: once as Wm. McKinley, Jr and then for the firm “W. + A McKinley”. It is also signed by his partner and brother-in-law George D. Saxton, who himself was murdered in 1898 over a legal case. There is a heavy tape stain across a horizontal center fold but away from the signatures. An unusually early example with plenty of handwriting and two examples of his last name.

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McKinley and his only Supreme Court appointee

William McKinley -partial commission signed as president and countersigned by Attorney General Joseph McKenna. This is the lower portion of a large folio style commission, dated May 12, 1897, just a couple months into his first term. McKinley would appoint McKenna to the Supreme Court seven months later. The 13.5 x 3.5 section includes the standard closing paragraph “Given under my hand…”. It is age toned but the large dark signatures provide nice contrast and the bright red seal adds a nice splash. Combination signatures of presidents with Supreme Court Justices are not common, with the exception of Hughes as Secretary of State and perhaps John McLean as Land commissioner who co-signed thousands of James Monroe land grants. McKenna served a little more than a year as Attorney General making his signed documents with McKinley uncommon. (19.5 x 20)

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Signed card as Treasury Secretary

Andrew Mellon businessman, banker, diplomat and Cabinet Secretary. He served as Secretary of the Treasury under Presidents Harding, Coolidge and Hoover. He lost the confidence of Hoover who promoted him out of the Cabinet post to become Ambassador of Great Britain. Signed autograph card as Secretary of the Treasury. [#4881]

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Framed land grant as Governor of Virginia

James Monroe - large land grant as Governor of Virginia. The 14.5 x 12.5 parchment grant was signed by Monroe on Sept 5, 1800 with a brown ink making for a slightly lighter than normal signature. Monroe’s large format grants as Governor are actually more impressive and less common than his presidential grants. (22.5 x 26)

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Patricia Nixon signed letter on White House stationary, June 2, 1972 signed "Pat Nixon" to Virginia Sherwood expressing sympathy on the death of her son, along with the White House envelope. [#4708]

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Scarce White House letter on smut and pornography

Richard Nixon signed letter, White House, April 30, 1969 to Journalist Merriman Smith. Nixon congratulates Smith on some comments about "smut peddlers" and signs it with his initials "RN". Very early into his Presidency Nixon resorted to signing almost all of his letters with his initials. Merriman Smith was one of the most respected journalist of the 1960's, perhaps gaining his greatest fame as an on the scene reporter at the Kennedy assassination. This is a wonderful letter reflecting Nixon's unease with pornography and sex during the tumultuous '60's when the courts were striking down laws against pornography. It is also a nice example of Nixon trying to develop positive relations with the media in quiet ways like these personal notes recognizing a particular article or statement. The original mailing envelope is included. [#3913]

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Warning of a noted economistís ties to Communist groups.

Richard Nixon - LS, January 20, 1948 “Dick” to Charles Cooper. Twenty-one years to the day before he would be president, Nixon writes about the work that propelled him into the national spotlight as a leading opponent of Communism. Late in 1947 while in his first term in Congress, Nixon was appointed to the House Un-American Activities Committee. In the summer of 1948 the Hiss-Chamber’s case erupted and Nixon’s national reputation was born.

Nixon passes along information from the House Committee to Charles Cooper and Herman Perry about Scott Nearing “because he has a long record of Communist front activities”. Nearing was a prominent Socialist, economist, and pacifist. His published works and lectures on pacifism during World War I resulted in criminal prosecution for interfering with recruitment of soldiers. There are typical folds and handling of the letter but it would be hard to find a better example of Nixon’s early red-hunting of prominent figures.

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Signed as President

James K. Polk-clip from the close of a letter as president, 4.5 x 1.75, “Yours respectfully/ James K. Polk/ Washington 2nd April 1845”. Presidential material from Polk is uncommon, other than documents and those aren’t particularly common either. The fragment and framing nicely showcases one of the more attractive presidential signatures and handwriting. (18.5 x 16)

Signed by 5 Presidents
Presidents signed photo
George W. Bush as President

Color photo of the North Portico of the White House matted and signed by 5 Presidents with an autopen of Ronald Reagan. Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon both added their Presidential numbers and George H. Bush dated it, as President. George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter added large felt tip signatures. There is room for additional signatures. Some bumps at edges but makes for a dramatic display piece.

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First Lady

Signed White House card. The 4 1/4 x 2 3/4 card has been boldly signed with a signature that almost fills the card. There is a light, almost unperceivable indentation mark from a paper clip at the top center which reaches down to the starting stroke of the "R" in Roosevelt. Overall, an excellent example of what is surprisingly becoming a difficult to find White House card signed by our longest service First Lady. [#3013]

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Inspects the fleet with Frederic Remington
Keeps the Secretary of the Navy in the dark

Theodore Roosevelt, signed letter, 2 pages on small stationary as Assistant Secretary of the Navy August 18, 1897. TR writes to Captain Henry Lyon of the USS Dolphin arranging a three day tour of a battle ship squadron returning to Hampden Roads. TR was appointed Assistant Secretary in April and wasted little time in working independently of and even undermining his boss Secretary John Long.

In this early letter arranging an early tour of the squadron Roosevelt makes clear he wants to keep his request modest enough so as not to involve his boss. “I write to you and not to the Secretary because the Secretary is so kind that I fear if I wrote to him he might put himself to some trouble or inconvenience in arranging to have the DOLPHIN ready for me.” He then offers to take a smaller ship or whatever would be easiest for Lyon to accommodate “so that there isn’t the slightest need of bothering the Secretary about it.” In political language the letter reads: keep our boss in the dark but understand that he would order you to provide whatever I want.

This is a wonderful example of TR becoming an expert on the navy and his new position. By knowing everything and making sure department operations ran smoothly he built confidence and trust with Secretary Long. That confidence was strong enough he soon was able to end-run and act almost independent of his aging boss, essentially setting Naval policy that was to be instrumental in the upcoming Spanish-American War.

Copies of four other letters related to the tour indicate that TR was joined on the tour by some reporters and the artist Frederic Remington.

The letter and signature are in excellent condition. A nice revealing letter of how TR operated in his formative role as Assistant Secretary. [#4324]

FDR speechwriter and screenwriter
Sherwood, Robert

Playwright, screenwriter, FDR speechwriter. Signed letter, Dec. 1947, mentioning his firend the poet Arthur Guiterman. #4145

U.S. Cabinet Secretaries.

Unless noted signed letters are on the appropriate Department stationary and are routine content.

James Garfield
Wayne MacVeagh (Attorney General) $50

Chester Arthur
Frederick Frelinghuysen (State) $50
Benjamin Brewster (Attorney General) ALS $45
William Hunt (Navy) $25
Charles Folger (Navy) $20
William Chandler (Navy) $45

Theodore Roosevelt
George Cortelyou (Commerce, Treasury and Postmaster) White House stationary $60

Woodrow Wilson
Robert Lansing (State) post-service private stationary ($100)
Josephus Daniels (Navy) $35
Mitchell Palmer (Justice) $20
Thomas Gregory (Attorney General) $25
William McAdoo (Treasury and son-in-law) $40

William H. Taft
Philander Knox (State) $20
Richard Ballinger (Interior) $20
George Wickersham (Attorney General) ALS $60

Warren Harding
Charles Evans Hughes (State—Supreme Court Chief Justice) on private stationary $100
Harry Daugherty (Attorney General) $35
James Davis (Labor –Harding/Coolidge) $40
Harry New (Postmaster) $25

Calvin Coolidge
Frank Kellogg (State- Nobel Prize winner) $90; on Senate stationary $60
Dwight Davis (War) $50
Curtis Wilbur (Navy) $20

Herbert Hoover
Charles F. Adams (Navy) $25

Franklin D. Roosevelt
James Farley (Postmaster General) $50
Frank Knox (Navy) on newspaper stationary $65

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Martin Van Buren, Martin - three page ALS, Sept. 1858, on a 4to bifolium sheet. The former president scolds a friend for being close by but not having visited him in Lindenwald and then discusses some local political news. He adds that as he approaches his 76th birthday “My health I am happy to say to you has at no moment of my life been better.” A nice semi-legible Van Buren handwritten letter.

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FDR's 2nd VP transitions to the Cabinet

Henry Wallace, Vice President under FDR during WWII and a candidate for President in 1948 as the Progressive Party nominee. Signed letter “H.A. Wallace” on Commerce Dept. stationary 4/5/45 to Harold Thompson. Wallace responds to a congratulatory letter from a friend apologizing for the delay in responding. FDR had offered the position to his former vice president but of course died just weeks into his new administration. Truman made good on the offer and appointed him as one of his first acts as the new president. Wallace explains the heavy flow of mail and lack of help between his leaving office and assuming the new position. [#4865]