Presidents and Political Leaders

Listings shown are sorted alphabetically.

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One of the rarer ALS's as President

Arthur, Chester ALS, Executive Mansion, Washington, April 24[1883], to Georgia Jones the wife of Nevada Sen. John P. Jones. In this brief one page example of his handwriting Arthur accepts an invitation from the Senator’s wife to attend the opera. He signs it with a flourishing signature. Renovations of the Executive Mansion were suspended while Garfield clung to life for a couple months after being shot. Upon taking office Arthur ordered the renovations commence with some additional decorating of his own. During those initial months of his presidency, with renovations underway, Arthur resided at the home Senator Jones and his wife.

Arthur is one of the scarcest of all presidents in full handwritten letters on Executive Mansion or White House stationary. For the advanced or serious collector of presidential letters this is a seldom found opportunity to obtain a single page Arthur ALS on official letterhead. Other examples as president are occasionally found on blank or hotel stationary when he travelled without his secretary.

$4,250.00
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First African American to serve a full term in the U.S. Senate

Former slave, first African American to serve a full term in the Senate. In his capacity as the Recorder of Deeds June 30, 1890, for the District of Columbia Blanche signs a release of claim on a parcel of land, "B .K. Bruce". Most Bruce examples are found on documents like this rather than anything from the Senate. [#3637]

$300.00
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Starts his diplomatic mission to England

Three page ALS, London, September 2, 1853 to his nephew Eskridge Lane. Having recently arrived in London to assume his new duties as U.S. Minister he shares some news about his trip and getting settled. He relates an early informal meeting with the Turkish Minister and predicts there will be no war between Russia and the Ottoman Empire. The letter had been completely separated along the fold lines but has been expertly repaired by a professional preservationist and presents as a fine example. [#4933]

$850.00
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Picking an artist for his White House Portrait

Group of two signed letters and one ALS regarding the selection of an artist for his official portrait. Each is to Rex Scouten, White House Curator and former Chief Usher. Two letters are signed “George” and “Sincerely George B” regarding some samples of Ronald Sherr’s work. The ALS is signed in full and reports that “We like [Herbert] Abrams, the man who did Jimmy Carter…”. Ultimately Abrams was selected to paint the official portrait now hanging in the White House and Sherr painted one which now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. Sherr’s portrait of the son George W. Bush now hangs at the George W. Bush Library. Presidential letters referencing portraits or White House art, are quite uncommon. The ALS is especially nice since it references Carter’s White House portrait. Three pieces. [#4936]

$950.00
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On Carterís abortion comments

ALS as Attorney General, 3/24/77. In part "Carter's abortion remarks disturbed me, as does so much of the talk about that subject." The letter is signed "Bill" and is accompanied by the holograph envelope. Very desirable and scarce letter commenting about another president and one of the hottest political issues of the past 50 years. [#4473]

$1,500.00
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Coolidge, Calvin - ALS January 3, 1931 on personal stationary to Thomas Cochran, a prominent banker of the time, regarding a small transaction and explaining he felt Cochran was too busy to see the former president while visiting New York. A very nice example as ex-president. [#4895]

$850.00
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– Sec. of the Interior under Grant. Signed cdv photo from the Alexander Gardner studio.

$90.00
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Writing in the final weeks of the war

Signed letter as Supreme Commander on AEF stationary, April 17, 1945. He thanks someone for a package of fruit from California that greeted him “When I returned to my office today, having been visiting troops in forward areas…” It had been a busy week. He toured a concentration camp for the first time in Ohrdruf on April 12th, the same day Roosevelt died. Two days later he halted the American drive to Berlin, pulling them back to the Elbe. When he returned to his headquarters to enjoy the fruit he was able to celebrate what essentially amounted to the end of major battles for Americans troops in Europe. Some toning at the edges and some minor stains in lower margin. Ike’s letters between D-Day and the German surrender are much scarcer than Presidential letters and very desirable. [#4827]

$1,500.00
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ALS, as a Congressman Buffalo, NY May 1839. Fillmore invites his colleague in the House and future Confederate General Henry Wise to speak before The Young Men’s Association of Buffalo. The letter is signed by four other people including former NY Congressmen Albert H. Tracy, Nathan K. Hall, Fillmore’s one time law partner and future Postmaster General under Fillmore. There is toning and some soiling. A relatively early Fillmore letter with some nice association. [#4367]

$800.00
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Signed 8vo four page sheet of paper “For Mrs. Osgood with the respects of Millard Fillmore Buffalo, Oct. 11, 1861”. In excellent condition with two folds, one running across or under the place and date. [#5030]

$350.00
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Letter to NY Gov. Hugh Carey

LS to New York Governor-Elect Hugh Carey recommending someone for a position in the Governor’s new administration. The December 11, 1974 letter was written as Senator-Elect and is boldly signed in blue. There is a circle drawn around a name in the text, certainly as a reference mark to route Glenn’s letter with the candidate’s application or file. [#4967]

$250.00
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Presidential appointment of his Attorney General

An almost unobtainable example of a presidential appointment to the Cabinet. Grant appoints Edwards Pierrepont as Attorney General of the United States. This appointment is in very good condition with strong signatures by Grant and his Secretary of State Hamilton Fish. There are flattened folds Usual folds have been reinforced on the back and there is one small area of show-through from a small strip of old non-archival tape on the back that has since been removed. Pierrepont served as Grant’s fourth of five Attorney Generals, lasting 13 months before being appointed as the U.S. Minister to Great Britain. In spite of a short tenure he left a mark in fighting corruption that swirled around the Grant Administration. His most famous case was breaking up the corrupt Whiskey Ring, a scheme to avoid taxes. This one got particularly close to Grant when Pierrepont unsuccessfully prosecuted the president’s personal secretary, former General Orville Babcock. Prior to being named Attorney General he was the lead prosecutor against John Surratt for involvement in the Lincoln assassination.

$5,500.00
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Rare Ship's registration

– signed folio document, approximately 11 x 15, once owned by another Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton signs a certificate of registration for the ship Mermaid out of Providence, Rhode Island issued October 19, 1791. The registration is issued according to the Act for Registering and Clearing Vessels… and signed “A. Hamilton” on the left side. It would have been signed earlier than dated and then issued in blank to the collectors of the several ports. The Mermaid, built in Philadelphia in 1789, was mastered by Benedict Arnold. That unlucky soul may have chosen a life at sea rather than constantly explain that he was no relation to the infamous traitor.

Ships’ registrations are interesting examples of American maritime history and the financing of the national debt. Hamilton’s financing plan included extra tariffs on good transported by foreign vessels. This had the dual advantage of raising extra money and encouraging American shipping and ship building. To distinguish American from foreign built ships a system of registration was necessary. Thus documents like this one. There is some added interest to the earliest registration forms since they are marked as being printed by Childs and Swaine, the official printers for the first Congress. They were responsible for publishing the early laws of the county and as evident here some of the forms and official documents of the bureaucracy.

This is one of the first ships registered under the new registration system and is numbered #37 in the upper left corner. It is in excellent condition with detailed engraving on the left scalloped edge and has three seals. It has been counter-signed by Jeremiah Olney as Collector for the Port of Providence. Olney was a Lt. Colonel in the war and distinguished himself at the Battle of Monmouth.

Early ship registers from Washington’s Administration are very difficult to find. Those signed by Hamilton are almost never seen. Book Prices Current show only three auction sales for Hamilton signed certificates in the last 30 years, two being for this same piece. This was previously owned by William E. Simon, Hamilton’s successor as Secretary of the Treasury under Presidents Nixon and Ford. It was sold at Christies in the 2005 auction of the William E. Simon Collection.

$8,000.00
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LS on Senate stationary April 13, 1916 to the prominent suffragist Harriet Taylor Upton. Harding offers to help intervene with the local county Republican Chairman to make sure Upton gets the names of delegates and alternates to the upcoming State Convention. Upton was becoming a more influential player in Ohio politics as well as the Women’s Rights movement. That Harding had to intervene to give her access to what today would be considered public information is a subtle example of the obstacles women faced in political activism. Upton would have no doubt been trying to influence delegates to support candidates and resolutions favorable to women’s suffrage in Ohio. Harding’s signature is a bit light in brown ink. [#4995]

$450.00
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Harrison laments abuse from the press in a rare ALS as First Lady

Four page ALS on Executive Mansion stationary with matching envelope addressed in her hand to Mrs. J. S. Clarkson, September 30, 1891. Harrison bitterly complains about press attacks on her family. She also quotes President Grant’s son Frederick who shared his own despair about being a famous son and subject to press criticism. In part… “I wonder why anyone cares to be in political life where every action is scratched & misrepresented & then most unmercifully attacked.” She asks Mrs. Clarkson to thank her husband (Chairman of the National Republican Party) for responding to the attacks with a defense of her son. Harrison’s autograph is scarce and among First Ladies her handwritten letters, especially as First Lady, are among the rarest. This one even has strong content. The writing is clear but the conclusion and signature of the letter are on the first page where she overwrote earlier writing. This leaves her signature legible but against other writing. Still one of the strongest letters from a rare First Lady to be found. This letter sold for $1,700 in 1991 at Herman Darvick auctions. [#5014]

$1,250.00
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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.

$900.00
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– ALS 1 page, January 2, 1845, to Thomas Dawson. Jackson responds to the news that Dawson’s father and Jackson’s good friend Moses Dawson has died. Apparently Thomas had sought advice about the disposition of a large volume of correspondence between Jackson and his father. Jackson shows awareness that his own lifetime was being assessed through a softening haze of time with more histories to follow his coming death. In part: “As it respects my letters to your father, you will please keep them, always recollecting that they were written not for publication, but in haste and for his eye, as a friend.” Jackson died just six months later.

Moses Dawson was a strong supporter with an outsized influence in the Ohio area as owner of a major newspaper. Jackson, almost certainly would not have remembered many details of his correspondence. It is obvious though that he understood old writings taken out of context might not reflect well on him or quite correspond with the historic image of Jackson that was forming even in his lifetime.

The letter is in generally fine condition. There is some silking or reinforcement of old folds. Intersecting folds touch a few pen strokes of Jackson’s signature. It is nicely framed in double window cut cloth-matting. It has not been examined out of the frame.

$4,000.00
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Johnson mentions the pressure of his Impeachment Trial

Signed letter 4/11/68 on Executive Mansion stationary, 1 page to the historian Harmon C. Westervelt concerning Congressional opposition to Johnson and alluding to the Impeachment. Johnson apologizes in a long delay to Westervelt’s letter two month’s earlier explaining that he was “prevented by the pressure of official duties” i.e. preparing for his Impeachment Trial. He then asks Westervelt to thank Mr. Browne and Hiram Ketchum for of copy of Ketchum’s remarks “so neatly and ingeniously transcribed, delivered in Union Square September 17, 1866.” The power struggle between Radical Republicans in Congress and the Democrat turned Republican president broke out early. Eighteen months prior to this letter a pro-Johnson rally was held in Union Square in New York with Johnson defenders whipping up support for national unity behind the president. It was this rally and a speech by Ketchum that Johnson references in this letter. The feud, of course, culminated in Articles of Impeachment against Johnson. The pressure Johnson was under must have been nearly all-consuming to have left Wersvelt’s letter go un-answered for so long. One week prior to the letter, the case against Johnson in the Senate was wrapped up. Johnson wrote this letter while his defense team was making their case to the Senate between April 9-20, 1868. Johnson presidential letters are few and far between. Those that mention the Impeachment are quite rare. This is a nice example that alludes to the trial but specifically recognizes his supporters who were making a case on his behalf. In excellent condition.

$2,500.00
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– ANS on the back of a letter from former U. S. Senator James W. Bradbury of Maine, December 25, 1867. Bradbury was promoting the appointment of a candidate to the Naval Academy. Johnson writes in pencil “Let application be entered for special consideration Andrew Johnson January 4 68.” The candidate was admitted the following year to the class of 1872. Holograph material by Johnson as President, who had an injured hand, are very tough to find. There are no complete handwritten presidential letters available to collectors so short notes, even endorsements like this are the closest substitutes.

$1,750.00
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Autograph note signed as president on a presidential notecard. The 2.5 x 4 gold edged heavy stock card with gold Presidential Seal was occasionally used by LBJ for short notes, typically with a gift or perhaps flowers. Johnson writes to West Virginia Senator Jennings Randolph: “To Jennings-we are thinking of you and hoping for the best. Lyndon”. Holograph material as president with anything other than just his signature is scarce. Like his predecessor Andrew, full handwritten letters as president may be unobtainable leaving short notes the closest substitute most collectors can hope to find. This one includes the envelope.

$1,250.00
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Signed letter on Senate stationary 5/24/50. Johnson, famous for attending to constituent services, sends information on legislation. He signs in full with an unusually large signature. A very nice relatively early example.

$350.00
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Kennedy appoints Sec. of Labor and future Justice Arthur Goldberg to a Commission

Signed document, March 15, 1961. Less than two months after his Inauguration Kennedy appoints Secretary of Labor Arthur Goldberg to the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Affairs. The document carries a nice dark and distinct full signature with the large white paper seal. Sec. of State Dean Rusk’s signature is somewhat light. The fresh looking appointment measures 23 x 19 and presents as mint; never folded and perhaps never even rolled. Goldberg would not serve long. Kennedy appointed him to the Supreme Court 18 months later. This is an exceptional example of a scarce document actually signed by Kennedy, appointing such a high ranking official and future justice.

$5,500.00
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Signed letter on Senate stationary 11/2/67 to Robert Wykle of the Wayne County Dem. Committee thanking him for some apples. Signed "Bob" [#4687]

$400.00
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Two murdered statesmen and a Supreme Court Justice

A very unusual signed document appointing a Counsel General to Ecuador, 7/15/97 countersigned by future Supreme Court Justice William Day as Acting Sec. of State and then accepted with a signed endorsement on the bottom from Ecuador's President Eloy Alfaro who like McKinley would be murdered. This is possibly a unique combination of signatures by McKinley and another murdered head of government. It is a most unusual example of an otherwise common presidential document.

$1,100.00
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Nixonís second term Cabinet

Signed photo, inscribed by Nixon. The 8 x 10 color photo shows Nixon and his cabinet seated around the Cabinet Table in early 1973. Nixon has personally inscribed and signed in the upper corner against the white walls of the Cabinet Room. Thirteen of the Cabinet members have signed near their images, each with different pens and varying degrees of contrast. Signers include Roy Ash (OMB), Peter Brennan (Labor), Rogers Morton (Interior), George Schultz (Treasury), Earl Butz (Agriculture) Richard Kleindeinst (A.G.), James Lynn (HUD), Claude Brinegar (Transportation), Frederick Dent (Commerce), Elliot Richardson (Defense), Casper Weinberger (HEW), William Rogers (State), Anne Armstrong (Counselor). Cabinet photos are highly desirable and post WWII examples are rarely seen. Most stay with the members themselves and examples to key supporters or collectors are rarely seen, probably because of the difficulty in circulating photos to so many people who rarely get together as a group.

$2,000.00
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Clip from an 1853 presidential commission. The large 7 x 2 cut also carries the signature of James Guthrie as Sec. of the Treasury. There is an uneven cut of the lower left corner. [#5038]

$450.00
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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)

$800.00
 
.Reagan, Ronald

Autograph manuscript (unsigned), 1967, 5 full pages and a partial 6th of heavily corrected draft remarks for his appearance before the Gridiron Club. There are also five pages of typed notes with some similar material and a few holograph corrections in Reagan’s hand. Like most Gridiron speeches there is a mix of some policy and current issues mixed with humor. The heavy editing, in a different color ink than the initial draft is a scarce and wonderful example illustrating the effort Reagan put into big speeches and his own editing process. The Gridiron Dinner, the equivalent of today’s White House Press Association Dinner, was always a big opportunity for aspiring national figures. The dinner in 1967 included President Johnson, Vice President Humphrey, Senator Robert Kennedy and of course Reagan. Holograph notes and especially drafts of speeches are quite interesting forms of political autographs for collectors. Generally in very good condition with some minor bending or bumping of corners.

$6,500.00
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FDR attacks fake news

An intriguing group of two memos initialed “FDR” and a letter signed in full “Franklin D. Roosevelt” all to Lowell Mellett. The 12/31/40 memo thanks Mellett for a copy of his lengthy and detailed letter to TIME Editor Henry Luce taking issue with TIME’s coverage of the Administration along with Luce’s letter sponding. FDR makes some pointed observations about Luce’s character. He also reveals his own thoughts about what is now fashionably called fake news. “You and I can admit that TIME makes false reporting extremely attractive.” A second memo 5/5/42 comments on photos of “a glorious room in a magnificent and historic building, which …will preserve democracy for the people of the United States against the sordid attacks of a subversive press.” The building was most likely the home to the newly formed Office of War Information which opened the following month. Finally there is a signed letter 3/22/44 accepting Mellett’s resignation as he was preparing to leave the White House and return to journalism at the Washington Star. FDR repeats his negative views of columnists and publishers. He responds to Mellett’s parting advice that at least the Star is open to printing points of view contrary to their own anti-Administration bias. “In these times, when it is more than normally necessary to achieve the fullest understanding of vital public issues, no greater service could be performed by the publishers, in my opinion.”

Lowell Mellett was a well-known pro New Deal journalist. FDR tapped him to head the Office of Government Reports and then the Bureau of Motion Pictures. While heading the BMP he supervised the series of movies known as “Why We Fight”, Directed by Frank Capra to build public support for the war effort. A nice grouping shedding some light on FDR’s private feelings about the media.
One the eve of World War II FDR created the Office of Government Reports to coordinate the collection of news and public opinion for the Administration. It also worked to organize the vast amount of information created by the government. At times it also stepped into the role of trying to coordinate the messages coming out of the government so the Administration’s perspective was heard. Once the U.S. entered the war some of the functions related to foreign policy and war efforts were transferred to the newly created Office of War Information. It housed a Bureau of Motion Pictures which created informational movies, some might label propaganda, about the war effort.

(See Dwight Eisenhower letter on the press)

$3,750.00
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Undated autograph letter signed “FDR” on stationary of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Roosevelt writes to his friend “Cass” (Lewis Cass Ledyard, Jr.) with some friendly banter involving Ledyard’s sailing. FDR offers to meet up with him if he can get there by battleship. Ledyard was part of the elite social and business circles of New York that Roosevelt travelled in as a younger man before his presidency. A nice example of his early holograph letters. [#4947]

$1,150.00
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TR and early moving pictures

Signed letter on blank paper, Oyster Bay 12/12/1898 as Governor-elect to Frank Marvin of the American Mutoscope Company – at the address of Roosevelt’s childhood home, 841 Broadway, in New York. In a single sentence letter Roosevelt informs Garvin that he has not yet received the pictures. It is signed “T. Roosevelt”. Roosevelt’s reference to “pictures” may have been about still photographs used in a flip card series or possibly a very early moving film picture. A year earlier Mutoscope produced and released a short clip (about 15 seconds) of Roosevelt walking down the steps of the White House as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. It is one of the first moving pictures of Roosevelt and can been viewed on the Library of Congress website. Overall in very good condition with mailing folds and the start of a small edge tear along a fold line. An intriguing association with early film making.

American Mutoscope was an early producer of motion pictures, the first company set up solely to film production and public exhibition. It was founded in 1895 by William Dickson on of Edison’s inventors who helped develop the technology of film making. The company and “studio” included the Director D.W. Griffith and the earliest of film stars including Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish and Lionel Barrymore. The mutoscope was a viewing machine for moving flip cards which when turned would create the “movie”. The company soon moved from flip card technology to projected film technology. It was later responsible for filming TR’s presidential appearances. Its first studio was located on the roof of the building where it rented space at 841 Broadway. Ironically the commercial building was built by the Roosevelt family on the site of the mansion where TR was born and raised. [#5047]

$800.00
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Taft turns sour on Roosevelt

Signed letter on personal stationary 5/22/16 to Major Wallace Batchelder. Acting as the elder Party statesman and titular head of his Party the ex-president carefully avoids interference with the nominating process … with one exception. “There are so many gentlemen being considered by the Republican Convention, to whom I am under great personal obligation that I regret I can not state my preference.” He signs the letter then handwrites: “Except that I am very much opposed to Mr. Roosevelt’s nomination.” The Roosevelt-Taft friendship broke after Taft succeeded TR into the White House. Roosevelt’s attempt for a comeback in 1912 challenging Taft’s re-election helped Woodrow Wilson walk in. The friendship soured and a lengthy public feud became legendary. Letters from either attacking the other are highly desirable and fun.

$1,500.00
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Praises Coolidge for the Boston Police Strike

Signed letter gushing with excitement about Coolidge’s re-election as Governor following the famous Boston City Police strike. In September of 1919 Boston police tried to form a union. When denied union recognition the police voted to strike. Public opinion turned on the police and they sought to end their strike but continue pressing for union recognition. Governor Coolidge essentially refused an olive branch that left the door open to forming a union. Coolidge immediately rose to national prominence by crushing the strike and pronouncing the “There is no right to strike against the public safety, anywhere, anytime.” This set him up for the Vice Presidential nomination the following year.

On Nov. 5th, 1919, the day after the election Taft writes to former Mass. Congressman Charles Washburn: “I cannot remember an election-certainly not a state election- in which there was more at stake than there was yesterday….It will stiffen the backs of all wobblers, of whom there are many, in the offices of Governor and Mayor and Sheriff. It will make them know that the votes are on the side of law and order and the suppression of lawlessness. It will discourage strikes, except when proper, because the impending strikers will know that they cannot succeed except through violence and that violence will be suppressed.” The letter is 1 Ĺ pages with some pencil notations and some glue remnants in two corners.

$900.00
 
.Taylor, Zachary

Diplomatic commission as President, August 9,1849. Taylor appoints Thomas Turner of New York as Consul to the Port of Bahia de San Salvador in Brazil. This was a most unfortunate prized commission for Turner. Just a few months after being appointed, Turner inspected a U.S. vessel the Brazil in Bahia,. suspected of illegally transporting slaves and of being the cause of sickness breaking out in the port. The Brazil indeed carried slaves and crew who were infected with Yellow Fever causing a local epidemic. The epidemic spread through Bahia infecting an estimated 100,000 people within a year and killing 3,000, including the hapless U.S. Consul Thomas Turner who stepped aboard ground zero.

Overall, a very clean example with some light scuffing of the paper around the “a” of his signature and typical folds that do not touch his signature. This is a particularly strong example of a scarce document with some better than usual association. Turner’s death connected to the American role in Brazil’s slave trade and a devastating epidemic is an interesting if almost forgotten story. It is professionally framed in double matting and an engraving. Taylor’s autograph as president is considered to be the third scarcest, behind W.H. Harrison and Garfield.

$4,000.00
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Citation of Merit, Degree of Legionnaire issued to Major General Ivanovich Pauil Afoni, Commanding General of the 5th Guard Airborne Division. The document is on White House stationary and boldly signed by Truman. There is a pencil notation in the margin. It is accompanied by the actual award document signed by Robert Patterson as Sec. of War. Some corner bends and pencil notations in a blank margin. Truman only issued a few hundred of these citations but surprisingly few hit the market. These are a special form of presidential document and those issued to Russian’s are particularly nice pieces recalling the Russian contribution to victory over Hitler.

$950.00
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The Jackson Adminsitration settles into the Spoils System

–ALS, Washington, April 8, 1829, one page. Less than two weeks after taking office as Andrew Jackson’s first Secretary of State, Van Buren handles some patronage matters and reports on the flood of job seekers appealing to the President. Trying to reward supporters with patronage was developed into a powerful machine model of party building under Jackson and Van Buren. As was often the case, the connection of the three P’s of power, politics and patronage was often squared with the fourth P of the Post Office. Here Van Buren suggests the desired position for a supporter might not be the “Indian agency” but “if you will recommend him for the post office I will endeavor to get him appointed.” While Van Buren is often credited with much of the party machine building under Jackson he was not left to carry the burden alone. Van Buren reports in this letter that the victor in the election was almost vanquished by the demands for jobs. “The Gnl [General] is in good health and spirits (except fatigue from the pressure of applicants) and sustains fully the character I had formed of him.”

Letters regarding job searches are too often sadly dismissed as routine. There is often a story behind each appointment. This is better than most reporting on both Jackson and Van Buren’s attention to patronage. They considered it crucial in consolidating and keeping power. Some would argue they were the primary bridge builders between presidential politics and political patronage, making letters like this a great one page representation of Jackson’s Presidency and his Spoils System.

$1,750.00
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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.

$850.00
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large 1858 engraving

An impressive1858 print “The Last Days of Webster at Marshfield”. The unusually large print by C. Mottram from a Joseph Ames painting was produced by Smith & Parmlee. It engraving measures 25 x 34 and the overall print is 44 x 33.5. Ames was a prominent 19th Century Boston artist of portraits and genre although in this case he produced an historical painting depicting Webster with friends and family just a few days before his death.

$350.00
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Wilson looks to the Churches to restore post-war America

Signed letter April 22, 1923, 4to, personal stationary. Wilson writes to Rev. Smith of Haverhill, Mass concerning a church resolution. In part: “…The churches can, and I hope will, do a vast deal of good in leading the country back to the high levels from which it has descended since the war.” Signed in full with an unusually dark signature and an uncommonly good content letter reflecting on post-war conditions in America. [#2196]

$750.00
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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.
[#3010]

$100.00
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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]

$275.00
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Calvin Coolidge signed White House card, generally clean. [#4875]

$250.00
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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

$450.00
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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]

$200.00
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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)

$3,000.00
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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]

$200.00
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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]

$75.00
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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]

$300.00
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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)

$450.00
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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”.

$2,500.00
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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]

$850.00
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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.

$175.00
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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]

$150.00
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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.

$2,000.00
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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]

$0.00
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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]

$400.00
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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]

$75.00
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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.

$500.00
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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)

$600.00
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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]

$75.00
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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)

$650.00
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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]

$125.00SALE PENDING
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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]

$650.00
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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.
[#4908]

$950.00
 
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.

$2,500.00
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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]

$225.00
 
FDR speechwriter and screenwriter
Sherwood, Robert

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

$75.00
 
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

$0.00
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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]

$90.00