Important Signed Documents from The Raab Collection
Important documents from The Raab Collection.
By Michael Stuillman
The Raab Collection is offering Catalog 64, a collection of 52 signed and important documents, overwhelmingly from Americans or pertaining to issues of importance to America. They range from the most important political leaders, including Presidents Lincoln, Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt, to Generals William Henry Harrison, U.S. Grant and Dwight Eisenhower (all of whom later became presidents too), scientists Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison, actors W.C. Fields and Judy Garland, and numerous other notables. Here is a chance to meet them in their own words.
The revolutionary struggle in America was already difficult enough in 1779, with the British holding a clearly superior force to that of their colonists. That was not enough of an advantage for them. To make things even harder, the British would arm friendly Indians on the western frontier to harass the Americans on the fringes of their civilization. The result was the already disadvantaged revolutionaries were forced to send badly needed manpower out to the frontier to fight Indians. Item 1 is a letter from Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and now Governor of Virginia, dated August 17, 1779. In it he asks the County Lieutenant for Hampshire, a far western county (now part of West Virginia), to raise a battalion of troops, and that they should "hold themselves in readiness on the shortest warning to proceed to such Western rendezvous as shall be notified to them by the Executive or the Field Officer who shall be directed to take command of them." Priced at $35,000.
A generation later, Americans once again at war with the British, found themselves facing the same strategy from their adversaries. This was the War of 1812, and the British had secured help from various western Indian tribes, the latter hoping to stop the expansion of American settlements. It was at this time that William Henry Harrison would make a name for himself, sufficiently so to be elected president 27 years later. "Old Tippecanoe" would defeat the British and their Indian allies at the Battle of Thames in today's Indiana. President Madison quickly chose to make use of Harrison's familiarity with the Indians to send him back west to reach a treaty. Such a treaty would turn the Indians from being a combatant against them to allies in their war with the British. Item 5 is a July 7, 1814, letter from General Harrison to the Acting Governor of Ohio. In it, he notes that his troops were being withdrawn. "General [Lewis] Cass and myself have therefore determined that as some troops are necessary to preserve good order & guard the public stores, it will be proper that [you] forward two full companies of those who may now be on their march nearest this place." While this was a mission of peace, General Harrison realized he better have sufficient military support behind him lest the Indians get any wrong ideas. $5,000.
Important Signed Documents from The Raab Collection
Series of letters leads to Lincoln accommodating the people of Baltimore.
Wars just seem to be a fact of life. By 1861, America found itself at war again, this time with itself. Lincoln rose to the presidency only to see a succession of southern states secede from the union. However, there was one he could not afford to lose - Maryland. It was a key border state, and the only access to the nation's capital once Virginia seceded. Maryland was split between people with northern and southern sympathies. The southern and eastern parts of the state leaned to the south, the north and west to the north. Baltimore was a middle ground, a city still part of the north but with a large part of its population opposing the union. Lincoln needed gunboats for the war, and several notable loyal Marylanders had recommended J.J. Abrahams, a loyal Baltimore shipbuilder, as one possible source. Lincoln, wise to the politics of the day, seized on the opportunity. He recognized that purchasing boats from Abrahams would not only aid his military while rewarding a loyal businessman, it would also provide jobs for residents of Baltimore. This could go a long way to securing that city's loyalty. Writes Lincoln to his Secretary of the Navy on June 13, 1861, "If the public interest can be served as well, or nearly as well, I would like our Union friends in Baltimore to be obliged." Included with Lincoln's letter are several of those recommending Mr. Abrahams to the President. Item 20. $15,000.
Item 27 is a pardon from President Andrew Johnson to a man with a familiar last name, Lucius Quinton Washington. Washington was a distant relative of the first President, but an official of the Confederate government. A journalist by trade, Washington became the senior aid to Secretary of State Judah Benjamin. As such, the general pardon available to Confederate soldiers was not available to Washington. He required a presidential pardon. Despite his role in the upper offices of the Confederacy, Washington evidently quickly accepted reality once the war was over, obtaining this pardon from Johnson on July 5, 1865. It enabled him to quickly return to journalism, to which he devoted the remainder of his life. $4,000.
Item 41 is a letter reflecting a controversy that split the Republican Party early in the 20th century. Theodore Roosevelt was a progressive and a conservationist. The same can be said of Gifford Pinchot, the first head of the U.S. Forest Service, appointed by Roosevelt's predecessor President William McKinley. Roosevelt appointed another progressive conservationist as his Secretary of the Interior, President Garfield's son James Rudolph. However, when William Howard Taft succeeded Roosevelt as President, he replaced Garfield with Richard Ballinger. Ballinger was a supporter of business interests, with far less concern for preservation of the environment. He found himself at odds with many members of Congress as well as holdovers in the Forest Service, including Mr. Pinchot. Pinchot publicly accused Ballinger of favoring private development of public lands and possible inappropriate dealings with special interests. Taft exonerated Ballinger and fired Pinchot. Item 41 is a letter Taft wrote to Wall Street lawyer and supporter Reuben Silliman, who had expressed concerns over the firing of Pinchot. Writes Taft, "I share with you the regret that I had to remove Mr. Pinchot, but as he persisted in putting himself in a place where there was no alternative, consistent with the dignity of the office of President, the action had to come." Taft may have won the legal battle, but Pinchot won the battle of public opinion, and the affair further aggravated Taft's relationship with Roosevelt, culminating in the party split that ultimately denied Taft any hope for reelection in 1912. $3,500.
You may reach The Raab Collection at 800-977-8333. Their website is www.raabcollection.com.