Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2005 Issue

Autographs, Manuscripts and More of Famous People from The Raab Collection

R0505

Raab Catalog 49 with T. Roosevelt letter comparing Washington and Lincoln on the cover.


By Michael Stillman

The Raab Collection
has issued its Catalogue 49 of one-of-a-kind material - manuscripts, personal letters, and other signed documents, photographs, and simple autographs. Raab specializes in the very best material. There will be few if any signers whose names you won't recognize. They are important figures in history, and many of these documents touch on the momentous issues of the day. They often provide insights to the personalities and values of the people who created them. Here are a few of the documents now available in the latest Raab catalogue.

One of the major causes of the American Revolution was "taxation without representation." However, once the Revolution was won, and the first Congress seated, the new government had to face the same issue the British had years earlier - raising funds. So, just as the British had, the new government imposed customs duties. However, this time they were imposed by the people's representatives, first Congress, and then signed into law by President Washington. In the very early days of the republic, it was the President's responsibility to inform the states of newly adopted legislation, so Washington penned letters to the governors of the states informing them of the new duties. Item 6 is Washington's letter to Maryland Governor John Howard, dated August 4, 1789, complete with Washington's signature. Priced at $38,500.

Item 16 is a most quaint letter from the "Great Compromiser," Henry Clay. Clay was one of the towering figures of the Senate in the period from the War of 1812 to the 1850s, and ran for president three times, but was never elected. His first run was in 1824 and the second in 1832, but his best opportunity was the election of 1844. His party, the Whigs, had carried the election of 1840, and they would win again in 1848. Clay would not be so lucky. In this letter to the publishers of the National Intelligencer, a pro-Whig Washington newspaper, Clay explains that he won't be giving any public speeches now that he has been nominated. In those days, it was considered unseemly for a candidate to actually campaign for election. Clay states that it is not only inappropriate to campaign for office, but to even allow himself to be placed in a position where he might influence the electorate in its decision. "Hereafter, and until the Presidential election is decided, I cannot accept nor attend any public meeting of my fellow Citizens, assembled in reference to that object..." Instead, he says he will return home "as quietly and quickly as possible," attend to his personal affairs, and await the people's decision. Of course while the candidates didn't speak, their surrogates did, and the elections of this era were among the dirtiest ever, at least until the last few years. $8,500.

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