Description

    Benjamin Harrison Poignant Black-Bordered Autograph Letter Signed: A week after his wife died in the White House, President Harrison thanks a friend for his message of sympathy.

    Signed: "Benj Harrison" as President, one page, 4.5" x 7". Washington, November 2, 1892. To Chapin C. Foster, Indianapolis, Indiana. In full: "Dear Chapin, The debt I owe to my home friends for their tender sympathy & loving interest in my dear wife cannot be adequately acknowledged, but it is very fully felt by me & by my children. I want to tell you & those associated with you how deeply we were moved by their attentions & their sympathy. Most Sincerely Your Friend."

    Chapin C. Foster was a prominent Indianapolis businessman and friend of Benjamin Harrison. C.C. Foster & Co., founded in 1872, was later reorganized as the Foster Lumber Company. His company supplied lumber as well as lumber products to businesses and homes in Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. Foster was also an officer of two banks.

    Benjamin Harrison, son of an Ohio Congressman and grandson of President William Henry Harrison, had practiced law in Indianapolis before representing Indiana in the U.S. Senate from 1881-1887. In 1853, at the age of 20, he had married 21-year-old Caroline Lavinia Scott.

    Caroline Scott Harrison (1832-1892) was an accomplished pianist and enjoyed dancing and painting. She reinstituted formal dancing at the White House for the first time since it had been banned by Mrs. Polk. The Harrisons had two children, Russell (1854-1936) and Mary (1858-1930). Mrs. Harrison was noted for her elegant receptions and dinners and began the White House china collection. She became ill during the winter of 1891-1892 and had to curtail her social obligations. Her widowed niece, Mary Scott Lord Dimmick, moved into the White House and supervised social events for her aunt. On October 25, 1892, in the White House, First Lady Caroline Scott Harrison died of tuberculosis. She was 60. On April 6, 1896, 37-year-old Mary Lord Dimmick married her widowed 62-year-old uncle, former President Benjamin Harrison. Two photographs of Caroline Scott Harrison are included with this letter.

    On November 2, 1892, eight days after his wife's death, President Harrison wrote this letter to his friend, Chapin C. Foster, thanking him for his "tender sympathy & loving interest in my dear wife... very fully felt by me & by my children." He had other things on his mind as well. The presidential election took place six days later. On November 8, 1892, President Harrison was defeated for reelection by the man he defeated in 1888, President Grover Cleveland.

    This emotional, black-bordered letter, in extra fine condition, is accompanied by the original black-bordered Executive Mansion envelope, addressed by Harrison to "C.C. Foster Esq./Indianapolis/Ind." The two-cent George Washington stamp issued in 1890 is affixed and postmarked in Washington, November 2, 1892. The envelope is postmarked on verso: "Indianapolis, Ind./Nov 4/1 AM/92/Rec'd." Presidential ALsS of Benjamin Harrison are scarce and this is a particularly attractive example. It would make an important addition to a presidential collection. From the Gary Grossman Collection.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2007
    16th-17th Monday-Tuesday
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