Signed American Documents from the Raab Collection
Catalog 72 from the Raab Collection.
The Raab Collection recently issued their Catalog 72. Raab specializes in signed, historic material. This collection is entirely American in origin, and the primarily manuscript and typescript items mostly come from personalities of political note. That includes many U.S. presidents, but also others of significant importance. As always, many documents come from the 18th and 19th centuries, but the 20th is well represented too. The time frame is covered by the range of presidents, from George Washington, president #1, to Jimmy Carter, #39. The great – Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, are included, as are the not as notable – Hayes, Harding, Cleveland, Hoover, Buchanan, and Benjamin Harrison. Here are some of these 51 documents from important Americans of the past.
We will start with one of those non-presidential Americans, but a man whose name stirs greater passion than most of the men who made it to the highest office in the land. It is a letter from Toledo, Ohio, dated June 22, 1857, from John Brown to his wife. Brown had recently come back from a speaking and fund raising visit to Wisconsin that had proven quite successful. Brown was on his way to Akron to pick up his son, Owen, and from there would travel to Tabor, Iowa. Tabor was a launching pad for many anti-slavery settlers heading to Kansas, a place where fellow abolitionists offered protection from the pro-slavery “border ruffians” of Kansas. Brown writes that he hears that free state settlers in Kansas are “anxious for my return,” and adds, somewhat ominously about himself, “& have some hope of being spared to meet you all again.” Brown would survive his confrontations in Kansas, but not his operation at Harpers Ferry, where he was captured and executed. Item 3. $24,500.
While John Brown was fighting slavery outside of the system, Charles Sumner was fighting from within. Sumner was an abolition senator from Massachusetts, and one of his causes was repeal of the hated Fugitive Slave Law. After a fiery speech in the Senate, Sumner was invited to speak in New York, where on May 9, 1855, he gave “an inspirational three hour address.” It must have been inspirational to keep the audience listening that long. On May 19, Sumner wrote down the most notable line from that speech and signed it on a sheet of paper. That line reads, “Ours is a noble cause; nobler than that of our Fathers, inasmuch as it is more exalted to struggle for the Freedom of others than for our own.” Item 12. $1,200.
Signed American Documents from the Raab Collection
One of the last writings of President James K. Polk.
Many presidents go on to be notable statesmen in the years after they leave office. Few go on to be a fireman. James K. Polk was an exception. After he returned to Nashville from his years in office, he was selected as an honorary member of Capital Hill Fire Company No. 4. However, in this response from the ex-President, Polk writes, “it gives me great pleasure to accept the honor conferred; and should the occasion for it occur, it will give me equal pleasure to be a working, as well as an honorary member of the Company.” Sadly, Polk never got the opportunity to put out a fire. This letter was written on May 28, 1849, and other than one written on May 29, no later letters from Polk are known. He became seriously ill on June 4, and died on June 15. Item 23. $10,000.
Most people may think of America's founders as a straitlaced bunch, certainly not the type who would have approved of gambling. Here is a bit of contradictory evidence. Item 1 is a lottery ticket from the Mountain Road Lottery, signed by none other than the father of his country himself, George Washington. The ticket is dated 1768. Washington and Captain Thomas Bullitt promoted this lottery to raise funds for a road through the Allegheny Mountains to the resort area now known as Hot Springs, Virginia. The lottery ended up a failure, but Bullitt went ahead with the plan to build a resort anyway. Item 1. $9,500.
Item 40 is a letter from Former President Theodore Roosevelt to Charles Lindbergh, dated 1914. 1914? Lindy was just 12 years old at the time, hardly a famous aviator yet. It turns out that Charles Lindbergh was also his father's name. Charles Sr. was a congressman from Minnesota, serving from 1907-1917, and a strong ally of Roosevelt. He was a progressive like Roosevelt, even a radical, a vehement opponent of the Federal Reserve Bank. He was also, like his son, anti-war when war was looming, in his case the First, rather than the Second, World War. Roosevelt heaps praise on the Congressman, noting his support for “concrete measures for the advancement of social and industrial justice.” Lindberg was born in Sweden as Carl Mansson, but his name was changed after his father abandoned his wife and spirited his son off to America. Were it not for this change, Lucky Lindy's name would have been – yes – Charles Mansson. $7,000.
Item 24 is a letter written by Martin Luther King on January 16, 1964. He had only just been named Time Magazine's Man of the Year a few weeks earlier, and King was responding to a complementary letter he had received from a Frank G. Butler. While accepting Butler's kind thoughts, King states, “However, I must say that I sincerely feel that this particular recognition is not an honor to be enjoyed by me personally, but rather a tribute to the entire civil rights struggle and the millions of gallant people all over the nation working so untiringly to bring the American dream to reality.” $25,000.
The Raab Collection may be reached at 800-977-8333 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website is www.raabcollection.com.