American Autographs from Joe Rubinfine
More American Historical Autographs from Joe Rubinfine.
By Michael Stillman
Joe Rubinfine American Historical Autographs offers a new group of autographed documents from important American historical figures. Included are several of the most collectible of signatures in the land -- George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Most noteworthy is that some of these documents are not only very significant, but were previously unknown. Rubinfine evidently has some sources that have been underground for over two centuries. Here you will find America's history in the making, often in descriptions written by those who played a major role. Here are a few to be found in his List 159.
Item 24 is an example of a previously unknown and remarkable letter. It was written by Colonel Henry Knox, from near the banks of the Delaware River, December 24, 1776. It was Knox who directed troops the following night during Washington's famous crossing of the Delaware, a masterful job that enabled Washington and his forces to secure a major victory at Trenton. Knox was immediately promoted to General for his success, and would later serve Washington as America's first Secretary of War. As an aside, prior to his hooking up with the revolutionary forces and assuming a major leadership position at the age of 26, Knox had been a bookseller in Boston. Knox writes his wife, Lucy, for whom he expresses great love and sorrow over their separation, on the eve of the great crossing. He leaves little doubt that this is a calling he must answer. He notes it is his duty "to put a stop to the barbarities & wanton cruelty which would disgrace the most unprincipled Savages on Earth..." He has a few other choice words for the English -- "...I did not conceive it to be in the breasts of any people on earth much less the boasted humane breasts of Englishmen to ravish daughters and wives & oblig'd their unhappy parents and husbands to be witness of their infernal brutalities." Knox expresses the view that America has been passive in responding to British efforts to subjugate its people, but states, "...I have not the Shadow of a doubt that America...will rise Superior to all temporary depressions." Of course, Knox would have known quite well of the rising his troops planned for the following evening. Priced at $75,000.
It would take several years for the war to turn America's way, and even after their victory at Yorktown sealed Britain's fate, life would not be easy for America's soldiers. In 1782, General Benjamin Lincoln, as Secretary of War for the Continental Congress, wrote to fellow General Nathanael Greene. His troops were desperately short on clothing and supplies, and Greene was trying to get some relief. A sympathetic Lincoln responds, "...the sufferings of your troops have impressed me with the deepest concern -- and the very painful sensations, which your relation of them excites, are poignantly enhanced by the reflection that these distresses should have been the lot of an army, not only entitled by special contract to better fare -- but whose meritorious and gallant exertions, under the most extreme difficulties, merited a very different fate." Alas, poor Lincoln must relate that he is helpless to respond. "Mine is the unhappy station in which I must hear these complaints without having it in my power to redress the grievances." Item 28. $3,500.
American Autographs from Joe Rubinfine
"Buffalo Bill" Cody relates some hard times.
Item 36 is a fascinating typed and signed letter from Theodore Roosevelt, dated May 12, 1911. In a letter to longtime family friend Louisa Lee Schuyler, Roosevelt, ironically, sharply attacks Republicans who left the party. At the time, dissatisfaction with the more conservative policies of Roosevelt's presidential successor, William Howard Taft, had led many of his old followers to abandon the party. In the letter, Roosevelt charges those who left the party with starting a "movement for evil" which put his New York opponent, William Barnes, "in command of our own party." This charge is both ironic and prophetic. It is ironic in that the following year, Roosevelt, too, would desert the Republicans to form his alternative party, the Progressives. This would lead to Taft's defeat in the election of 1912, though it was Democrat Woodrow Wilson, not Roosevelt, who was elected. The letter was prophetic in that the desertion of so many progressives would turn control of the party over to the conservatives, never to be restored to people with the same ideals as T.R. In another interesting comment, Roosevelt mentions, "Yes, I was very proud of Franklin's fight." Here he refers to the first election of his fifth cousin (and husband of his niece) Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the New York State Assembly. T.R. also expresses his support for the suffragist movement, saying, "You know I am rather a woman suffragist." $15,000.
Millard Fillmore wrote his sister-in-law Julia Fillmore on August 23, 1854. It was an unbearably painful time for the former president. His wife had died the previous year, and then, just a month prior to this letter, his 22-year-old daughter Abigail too had passed on. Now he was writing his sister-in-law who requested help with the estate of Fillmore's younger brother Charles, who had just died. Writes Fillmore, "Mrs. Fillmore & Abbie both gone and never to return. The thought was unendurable... I thought my cup was full, but it was not." Fillmore then tells his sister-in-law that he cannot provide much advice, other than to call on God to comfort her in her personal loss, and to get a good lawyer to help her with her financial issues. Item 12. $1,800.
William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody dropped a note, along with $100, to his printer in 1916. By then, he had sold his Wild West Show, but was still a well-paid performer, despite being 70 years of age. The show's stationery proclaims "Preparedness," code for opposition to Germany in the days before America entered the First World War. The show had just suffered a minor train wreck, and Cody writes, "Seems like this is an unlucky year for me." Not as unlucky as the next year, in which he died on just its tenth day. Item 7. $5,000.
Joe Rubinfine may be reached by telephone at 561-659-7077, or by email at Joerubinfine@mindspring.com.