Historic, Mostly American Documents from Stuart Lutz
Item 127 recounts a chance meeting in 1886 between an old politician from the first half of the 19th century and a young man who would be president in the 20th. Future President William Howard Taft was a young man of 28, vacationing in upstate New York, when he stopped at a hotel in Louisville, a small town near the Canadian border. He was looking for a ride when he discovered an older gentleman heading for the same destination. Since two could share a buckboard (a horse drawn wagon) for the price of one, they decided to ride together. Taft writes to Harlan Lloyd, his father's law partner, of this meeting. The older gentleman was Henry Allen Foster, who had served in the House of Representatives in the 1830s, and was appointed to replace resigning Senator Silas Wright of New York in 1844 (he served until 1845). Foster later was a judge on the New York Supreme Court. Taft enthuses, "He was in the Senate with Webster, Clay, Calhoun, Tom Corwin and all of those old boys (all but Corwin had died before Taft was born)... He is now eighty five years of age and he is as sprightly as a young kitten." Taft notes that Foster told him he made more money since having to retire from the court twelve years ago because of old age than in all of the rest of his career combined. I can find no other recorded connection between these two politicians of vastly different eras. Foster would die three years after this meeting, while 22 years later, Taft would become President and 35 years later Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. In his letter, Taft also mentions seeing "Nellie," she being Helen Herron whom he would marry the following year. $750.
Only time and events yet to come will tell just how valuable item 147 will become. The book is Leadership, and it was signed by a former New York Mayor with much higher political ambitions, Rudy Giuliani. $150.
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