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    Description

    Franklin D. Roosevelt: Autograph Note Signed as President.
    -[no date] One page. 4.75" x 6.75".
    -To: Secretary of State Cordell Hull.
    -Original folds, some creases, paper clip mark at top, small piece missing from top right corner, else near fine.

    FDR writes (in full): "Dear Cordell / As you know I am very keen about the Roerich Peace Pact and I hope we can get it going via 'the Americas'-Will you and Henry Wallace talk this over and have something for me when I get back?/ FDR". Influential during FDR's administration, Russian born artist, poet, and writer Nicholas Roerich was the pivotal force behind placing the Great Seal of the United States on the dollar bill. The Roerich Peace Pact, which obligated nations to respect museums, cathedrals, universities, and libraries, was established in 1935 and became part of the United Nations organizational charter. This handwritten note to Cordell Hull gives an early indication of FDR's support for the Peace Pact, and his strategy to adopt its principles via hemispheric coordination and cooperation in the Americas, which was consistent with his Good Neighbor Policy. Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace signed the Roerich Peace Pact on April 15, 1935.


    More Information:

    The extended description below was supplied by the consignor. We are making it available to our web bidders who are interested in more in-depth research and broader historical perspective. Please note that presentation (i.e. framing), lot divisions, and interpretations of condition and content may occasionally differ from our descriptions. Assertions of fact and subjective observations contained in this description represent the opinion of the consignor. These remarks have not been checked for accuracy by Heritage Auctions, and we assume no responsibility for their accuracy; they are offered purely to allow the bidder insight into the way the consignor has viewed the item(s) in question. No right of return or claim of lack of authenticity or provenance based upon this extended description will be granted.

     

    In FDR's own hand in its entirety, as President of the United States, with very special and historic content, an autograph letter signed, one page, on beige paper without letterhead, no date, written to Secretary of State Cordell Hull. FDR writes in his own hand: "Dear Cordell:/ As you know I am very [underlined] keen about the Roerich Peace Pact and I hope we can get it going via ‘the Americas'–Will you and Henry Wallace talk this over and have something for me when I get back?/ FDR." Wow! This hand written letter to his Secretary of State, directing Mr. Hull to coordinate with FDR's Secretary of Agriculture, Henry Wallace, about a major international peace and cultural initiative, as well as FDR's initial thoughts concerning his international strategy to have the peace plan adopted, is just a wonderful as well as historic letter. Nicholas Roerich, a Russian born artist, poet, writer and distinguished member of the Theosophical Society, led an expedition across the Gobi Desert to the Atlas mountain range from 1923 to 1928, a journey which covered 15,500 miles across 35 of the world's highest mountain passes. Roerich was a man of unimpeachable credentials: a famous collaborator in Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, a colleague of the impresario Diaghilev and a highly talented and respected member of the League of Nations. Roerich was an esoteric Russian painter, and went to Central Asia to become a lama. His earliest paintings, filled with Himalayan light, are in the astonishing Oriental Museum, also known as the Museum of East and West, in the Russian capital of Moscow, and others at Roerich societies like the ones in New York City in the United States and St. Petersburg in Russia. Roerich was credited with introducing the West to Agharthi and Shambhala. Nicholas Roerich was also influential in FDR's administration, and was the pivotal force behind placing the Great Seal of the United States on the dollar bill. The Roerich Peace Pact, which obligated nations to respect museums, cathedrals, universities and libraries as they did hospitals, was established in 1935 and became part of the United Nations organizational charter. This hand written note from FDR to his Secretary of State gives perhaps the first indication of FDR's active support of the Peace Pact, and his strategy to adopt its principles via hemispheric coordination and cooperation in the Americas, also consistent with FDR and Hull's "good neighbor" foreign policy in the hemisphere. Indeed, Secretary of Agriculture Henry Agard Wallace did sign the Peace Pact representing the United States of America on April 15, 1935, so FDR's initiative was ultimately successful. The Preamble to the Peace Pact reads: "The High Contracting Parties, animated by the purpose of giving conventional form to the postulates of the Resolution approved on December 16, 1933, by all the States represented at the Seventh International Conference of American States, held at Montevideo, which recommended to ‘the Governments of America which have not yet done so that they sign the ‘Roerich Pact,' initiated by the Roerich Museum in the United States, and which has as its object, the universal adoption of a flag, already designed and generally known, in order thereby to preserve in any time of danger all nationally and privately owned immovable monuments which form the cultural treasure of peoples,' have resolved to conclude a treaty with that end in view, and to the effect that the treasures of culture be respected and protected in time of war and in peace, have agreed upon the following articles." Although undated, this hand written letter from FDR to Cordell Hull was most probably written in 1933 or 1934. The Roerich Pact and Banner of Peace movement grew rapidly during the early nineteen thirties, with centers in a number of countries. There were three international conferences, in Bruges, Belgium, in Montevideo, Uruguay, and in Washington, D.C. The Pact itself declared the necessity for protection of the cultural product and activity of the world, both during war and peace, and prescribed the method by which all sites of cultural value would be declared neutral and protected, just as the Red Cross does with hospitals. Indeed, the Roerich Pact was often called The Red Cross of Culture. The Roerich Pact was first agreed to by twenty one nations of the Americas and signed as a treaty in The White House, in the presence of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, on April 15, 1935, by all the members of the Pan-American Union. It was later signed by other countries also. FDR's long serving Secretary of State, Cordell Hull (1871-1955) was a political leader as well as statesman, born in Overton County, Tennessee. A Tennessee legislator and judge, Democratic National Committee chairman, United States Representative (1907-1931) and Senator (1931-1933), he became the longest serving Secretary of State ever under President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933–1944). A strong advocate of free trade and of the "Good Neighbor" policy with South America during the 1930s, he early advocated strong support for the Allies, attended most of the great wartime conferences, and promoted international cooperation and the United Nations, for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945. FDR also asks his Secretary of State to coordinate the adoption of the Roerich Peace Pact with his Secretary of Agriculture, later Secretary of Commerce and FDR's Vice President in his third term, Henry Agard Wallace (1888-1965), was born in Adair County, Iowa. With his father, Wallace developed the first successful hybrid seed corn (maize). Appointed Secretary of Agriculture in 1933 by FDR, he carried out policies mandated by the Agriculture Adjustment Act of 1933 (AAA), a cornerstone of agricultural policy in the early New Deal. In 1940 he was nominated for Vice President after FDR made it clear that he wanted Wallace. An active Vice President, he advocated cooperation with the Soviet Union and economic assistance to underdeveloped countries. He was dropped from the ticket in 1944 but still campaigned for Roosevelt. He was named Secretary of Commerce in 1945, but was later relieved by President Harry S. Truman for his outspokenness regarding American relations with the Soviet Union. In 1948 he ran unsuccessfully for President as the Progressive Party candidate. In 1952 he published Why I Was Wrong, which explained his new distrust of the Soviet Union. A lifelong fascination with mysticism and the occult appears to have made Wallace an easy mark for charlatans, among them a faux-Indian medicine man and opera composer named Charles Roos, who was given to addressing Wallace as "Poo-Yaw" and "Chief Cornplanter." Wallace considered Roos a soul mate. In the 1930s the two men purchased a tract of land together near Taylor Falls, Minnesota intended for spiritual retreats where they could, in Wallace's words, "find the religious key note of the new age." More politically damaging was his friendship and correspondence with none other than Nicholas Roerich, whose Peace Pact is the topic of FDR's letter. Wallace eventually gave Roerich a Department of Agriculture expense account and sent him on a $75,000 expedition to Central Asia in search of drought resistant grasses. This relationship between Wallace and Roerich, would negatively influence the former's run for the Presidency in 1948. This letter, written entirely in FDR's own hand, referencing a very significant and historic peace pact and cultural achievement of FDR's Presidency, to his Secretary of State, referencing his Secretary of Agriculture and his strategy of including the Americas for adoption of the Pact, is a one of a kind, very special, and absolutely fantastic item.



    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    7th Saturday
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