Signed Documents From Two Centuries of Important Leaders from The Raab Collection
John Marshall is America's most important Supreme Court Chief Justice. Through his long service during the first half of the 19th century, he led the court through numerous key decisions, setting out the roles of the various branches of government and the powers of the federal government vis a vis the states. His greatness is unquestioned, but not even he was willing to take on the nation's thorniest question of its first 80 years - slavery. Marshall seemed to believe that slavery violated men's natural rights, and yet since this denial of natural rights by force had been accepted by nations, it was not unlawful. Marshall, not unlike other founding fathers, many Virginians as was he, seemed to both abhor and tolerate slavery. It was one of those things they hoped would fade away, while not taking decisive action to assure that would happen. In time, that would prove to be a disaster for future generations. Part of their problem, again shared by Marshall, is that they were themselves slaveholders. Item 10 is an 1807 letter from Marshall to someone who owed him money. In turn, Marshall was indebted to his brother-in-law Rawleigh Colston. Marshall suggests that his debtor make payment directly to Colston on his behalf, and since Colston was looking to buy some slaves, he might be inclined to take such in trade. Writes Marshall, "...I suppose he [Colston] will not be unwilling either to take negroes or wait until you can without inconvenience pay him the money..." $12,000.
Item 14 is an election prediction from a Tennessee congressman, though this may be of greatest interest to Texas collectors. The writer is Congressman Sam Houston, whose career as a leader of Texas is better remembered than his stints as Congressman from, and Governor of, Tennessee. On April 8, 1824, Houston, a staunch supporter of Jackson, wrote his cousin William Houston Letcher. Sam was always a prescient man, being the rare southern leader to oppose secession years later, predicting great tragedy would come to the South as a result. In 1824, he predicts, "My own opinion is that General Jackson will be the man! If not him, Mr. Adams." There was a four-way race in 1824, with William Crawford and Henry Clay joining Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams in the race. As Houston foresaw, Jackson won the most number of votes, but not having a majority, the race was thrown into the House of Representatives where Adams was selected. $6,500.
In 1912, Woodrow Wilson made the rise from university president barely a year earlier to President of the United States. He was elected with no little help from the Republicans, who split between Roosevelt and Taft, enabling the Democrat Wilson to win. Shortly after taking office in March of 1913, Wilson sat down with his cabinet for its first meeting and a photograph. Item 25 is a copy of that photograph, and it is signed by all of the participants. That includes, naturally, Wilson and three-time unsuccessful presidential candidate and now Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan. Item 25. $6,800.
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