America’s History in Autographs:<br>The Latest from Steven Raab
As long as we’re on FDR, here’s a letter than spans eras and wars. Roosevelt had met the French World War I leader, Georges Clemenceau, likely during peace negotiations after the war. In 1927, Roosevelt drew on the connection in a way he says he had always resisted in the past. He requested Clemenceau meet, “even if only for a few minutes,” his law partner who was traveling to France. It isn’t known whether Clemenceau granted Roosevelt’s request, but if so, Roosevelt repaid the favor to Clemenceau’s homeland when the next World War came around. Item 50. $2,995.
For balance, we’ll turn to the Roosevelt of the other party, Theodore. In 1891, T.R. was not a president or vice-president. He had not yet charged up San Juan Hill. Instead, he was a member of the Civil Service Commission. Even then, Roosevelt’s colors as a reformer were evident. In this letter to his friend Curtis Guild (later governor of Massachusetts), Roosevelt lashes out at those blocking reforms, especially House Speaker Joseph Cannon, despite the Speaker’s being a fellow Republican. Item 54. $3,295.
President Grover Cleveland is less well-known as a reformer. In fact, Cleveland isn’t remembered for much of anything other than the trivia item of being the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms. He is one of those presidents in the vast era between Andrew Jackson and T.R. none of whom excite people’s imaginations today unless their first name is “Abraham.” Cleveland felt that wealthy interests put themselves above the people and in 1903 he penned this quote: “I am thoroughly convinced that there will be no genuine reform of the tariff until it is entrusted to those who love the People more than self.” Cleveland felt that high tariffs helped wealthy corporations earn large sums of money while keeping the cost of goods for consumers artificially high. Item 12. $995.
Politics are painfully contentious today, but sadly this has been the norm through most of our existence. Personal attacks on one another are hardly something new, and yet there was an era when we all sort of managed to get along. The time was the period between the close of the War of 1812 and the contested election of 1824, when John Quincy Adams was chosen as president over the vote leader Andrew Jackson. This time became known as the “Era of Good Feelings,” and the political beneficiary was President James Monroe. In 1817, the new president from Virginia undertook a trip to the northern states to ease any hard feelings among those who had not favored the recently concluded war. By all accounts, the trip was a great success, with Monroe greeted by large and friendly crowds. One of the places Monroe was invited to visit was Salem, Massachusetts, long ago freed of its witches. Item 42 is a letter from Monroe to the citizens who invited him expressing his deep appreciation. $5,995.