Historical Autographs From Catherine Barnes
Protection of animals is a strongly supported concept today, but was a relatively new idea in the 19th century. This letter comes from Henry Bergh, the founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Writes Bergh, "A fellow who beat a horse, until at each blow, the blood ran out of the poor creature's flesh, was fined $20!! when he should have gone to the Penitentiary for six months." He then goes on to write about an upcoming case which, surprisingly, involved cruelty to turtles. Bergh was a great humanitarian, or is it animalitarian, and this letter will be a wonderful addition to the collection of anyone who shares his concern for the welfare of animals. $1,000.
In 1941, prior to America's entry into the Second World War, President Franklin Roosevelt sent off this letter to Margaret Woodrow Wilson, daughter of the president with two of those three names. FDR was Wilson's Assistant Secretary of the Navy during the First World War, and knew Margaret from those days. Ms. Wilson was in India at the time and having trouble drawing her funds from a bank, most likely because of the war. Roosevelt intervened on her behalf and wrote Wilson to let her know of the results. $1,500.
An interesting presidential letter comes from William Howard Taft, about five months before his election. Taft had given a Memorial Day (then better known as "Decoration Day") speech at Grant's Tomb to an audience including many Civil War veterans. In it, Taft had said that Grant left the army in 1854 to avoid being court-martialed for his drinking problem. Taft had made the reference to show Grant's great strength in overcoming this weakness at his country's time of need, but many of the veterans had taken it as an affront to their leader. Taft uses this letter to Editor William Church of the Army & Navy Journal to explain his meaning and apologize for any hurt feelings, while still saying, "I can't change my view of the accuracy of the statement." Taft adds of Grant. "I have the tenderest respect for his memory, and am grateful to him because of what he did for father." Grant had appointed Taft's father, Alphonso Taft, as Secretary of War and Attorney General late in his administration. The controversy proved to be harmless as Taft would sweep to an easy victory over perennial loser William Jennings Bryan. $1,000.
John Brown letters are important to any abolitionist collection. Here is one written by Brown in 1848 while still a wool merchant in Springfield, Massachusetts. Brown, the quintessential Massachusetts liberal of his day, wrote to Ohio Congressman Joshua Giddings, a fellow abolitionist, concerning a wool exhibition that was to be used to promote the abolitionist cause. This plan fell through, but Brown's cause did not, though Brown would give his life for it. $7,000.
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