Important Signed Documents from the Raab Collection
Lincoln writes McClellan one last time.
The Raab Collection has issued Catalog 68 of important signed documents. Most emanate from America, although there are a few of European origin. They all pertain to important personalities or events in history, often mostly from political leaders, but including items from the pen of great scientists, literary and humanitarian figures. Here are a few of these one-of-a-kind signed documents.
Pictured on the cover of this catalogue is President Lincoln's last letter to George McClellan as leader of U.S. forces during the Civil War. It is dated October 29, 1862. When Lincoln arrived in Washington to take his oath of office, the South had already announced its secession. The new President faced rebellion with an army not well prepared for such internal strife. It was led by General Winfield Scott, a great military hero who had served as far back as the War of 1812. However, he was now 74 years old, had numerous medical problems, and weighed around 300 pounds, leaving him hardly fit for battlefield command. That responsibility would soon go to General McClellan. McClellan, a good organizer, would prove to be a conservative commander, unwilling to take quick action when conditions called for decisiveness. As time went on, Lincoln, without military background, came to have more faith in his own military decisions than those of his commanders, first McClellan, and then several of his successors. In this letter to McClellan, Lincoln responds to news that McClellan, at his orders, has been moving his troops across the Potomac in anticipation of an assault on Richmond, the Confederate capital. Lincoln wanted McClellan to move his forces between those of Robert E. Lee and Richmond, thereby hindering its defense. The President still sounds satisfied, writing, "I am much pleased with the movement of the Army. When you get entirely across the river let me know." However, McClellan moved slowly, Lee anticipated and reacted quickly, and the plan fell through. That was the last straw for Lincoln, who removed McClellan from his command a week later. Lincoln would go through several more generals before finally finding Ulysses S. Grant, who shared Lincoln's belief in bold action. Item 5. Priced at $100,000.
President Lyndon Johnson was far more pleased with the performance of General William Bunker during the Vietnam War, but if the Civil War made Lincoln a great president, the Vietnam War would destroy what might have been Johnson's great presidency. Johnson was a master at domestic policy, but the war would be his undoing. In this March 2, 1966 letter, Johnson writes Bunker, who oversaw much of the massive build-up of troops, "I am sure that military history will record the movement of American troops to Vietnam as the high water mark in logistics planning." Perhaps history would have had the war turned out differently, but Johnson was unable to achieve victory as Lincoln had. Item 19. $3,000.
If Lincoln's wartime demands seemed terribly difficult, those faced by Winston Churchill seemed almost impossible. Europe overrun by the Nazi war machine, America sitting on the sidelines, England stood alone in 1941 in defending the world from the unspeakable tyranny consuming it. It didn't matter to Churchill, who remained steadfast in his determination to win the war no matter the odds. There simply was no choice. In November of 1941, the month before America entered the war, an election was held in Harrow, where Churchill had once attended school, to fill a seat in Parliament. Though Churchill headed a national unity government, he still wrote a letter to the Conservative candidate, Norman Bower, in support of his candidacy, as Bower was more strongly supportive of Churchill's policies. The opposition, Churchill felt, though in broad agreement with him, engaged in petty sniping he felt disruptive to the united cause. In his letter to Bower, Churchill speaks with his usual wartime inspiration and brilliance: "We are engaged upon the Herculean labour of rescuing Europe and saving ourselves from the unspeakable 'New Order' and all the abominations that go with it." Item 25. $28,500.
Important Signed Documents from the Raab Collection
The sun shone briefly on F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Three weeks later, the landscape would drastically change. Japan would bomb Pearl Harbor, and America would be drawn into the war on the side of Britain. It was the help Churchill had long desperately sought, and Franklin Roosevelt wished to provide, but could not because of strong isolationist sentiment in America. Once America was attacked, its people were isolationist no more. However, Churchill remained concerned. He and Roosevelt had long agreed that the top priority was to defeat Germany, but Churchill feared America would shift its attention to Japan, again leaving England to face Germany alone. So, he took off for America to meet Roosevelt. Item 11 is a photograph signed by Churchill, taken onboard the HMS Duke of York as Churchill sailed for America shortly after Pearl Harbor to seek Roosevelt's reassurances. His goal would soon be achieved, Roosevelt sharing his English counterpart's priorities. Standing next to Churchill in the photo is his daughter, Mary, in military uniform, and Admiral Sir John Tovey. $12,000.
F. Scott Fitzgerald's life was filled with ambition, contention, tragedy, and all sorts of attributes that make for less than peace and contentment. He and his over-the-top wife, Zelda, burned brightly, and flamed out. Fitzgerald rarely had quite enough money to support their lifestyle, while she rarely had the mental balance. Fitzgerald hit the big time in 1920 with his first novel, This Side of Paradise. It enabled them to live well, and socialize with the great literary figures and celebrities of the roaring 20s. In 1924, the Fitzgeralds headed for Europe, to allow Scott a bit more peace to work on his next novel, which would be The Great Gatsby. Most of that time was spent in France, but the family, which included their son and only child, Scottie, visited Italy. From there, Scott wrote home to his mother, with whom he remained close, with a picture postcard. It is a personal picture on the card, Scott, Zelda, Scottie and his governess, seated in an automobile, and it shows that his mother was concerned with Scott's psychological well-being. On the front, above the picture, Scott has written in red ink, "This is the sun - not melancholy." An arrow points from the caption to the image of Scott. Evidently, Scott is trying to reassure his mother of his happiness, and if there was a happy time in Fitzgerald's troubled life, this was probably it. Item 2. $14,000.
The Raab Collection may be reached at 800-977-8333. Their website is www.raabcollection.com.