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    Warren G. Harding letters and photographs

    Warren G. Harding Archive of Letters, Photographs and Ephemera between Harding and Mrs. Jennie Williamson spanning the years 1917-1928. The group includes a total of four letters from Harding, three secretarial letters from George B. Christian to Williamson, four black & white photographs of Harding (posed with Mrs. Williamson in two), two copyright receipts from the Library of Congress attesting that copies of the photographs have been "deposited in this office", a retained copy of a letter from Mrs. Williamson to Harding's sister (Carolyn Votaw), and a letter from Mrs. Votaw in response. Other related ephemera, including an invitation to witness a review at the Armory, and Senate Chamber pass, and a printed thank you note from the White House.

    Harding's letters are informal and friendly in tone initially. The first dated May 22 [1917] is an Autograph Letter Signed "W.G.H." One page with blank integral, 5.5" x 6.75", May 22 [1917]. Thanking her for her note and a clipping. He adds, "Funny thing - I have a letter from California signed Ruth Williamson, who writes as though she knows me. Isn't that your daughter's name?" Accompanied by the original transmittal envelope postmarked Washington D.C. May 22, 1917.

    The second letter dated October 20, [1917] is all in his hand and signed "Your Friend". 2 pages of a bifolium, folded to 4.75" x 6.5". In part: "...I was in N.Y. on the 18th, but only for three hours, and your phone did not answer. I really know nothing of the earning capacity of the young man, except that in an official way his limit is $1800. There are side earnings for the extra industrious, perfectly honorable and legitimate, but I do not know of his capacity of opportunity... am leaving Sunday for the S. West and will not return until November 20. Am anxious to rest and soother my nerves and get away from all endeavor. Most of us are worn to a frazzle..." With original transmittal envelope postmarked Washington D.C. October 20, 1917.

    A Typed Letter Signed on United States Senate letterhead, 6" x 8.2", Marion, Ohio, November 1, 1920. A brief thank you note signed "Warren G. Harding." Clearly an attempt to put some distance between them. Accompanied by the original envelope.

    The last letter from Harding in this group is a Typed Letter Signed "Warren G. Harding" on his personal imprinted letterhead, 7.25" x 10.5", [Saint Augustine, Florida], January 21, 1921. He writes: "...I would be very glad to grant to you the requested interview, but I do not see how it will be possible at the present time... After I am settled in Washington I will be glad to have you call and I will see then, in personal interview, what can be done to meet the aspirations of yourself or your daughter. I note your request for tickets to the Inauguration. Evidently you have not noted that there has been complete abandonment of the Inaugural program. There is to be no function to which admission is granted by ticket and I know of no ceremony for which there are to be seats assigned. The whole thing is to be of the simplest character, though I suppose it will be very unsatisfactory to those who are accustomed to being seated." With the original mailing envelope postmarked "Saint Augustine / Fla./ Jan 22, 1921". Harding cancelled most of the planned festivities, including the customary parade, leaving only the swearing-in ceremony and a brief reception at the White House. In his inaugural speech he declared, "Our most dangerous tendency is to expect too much from the government and at the same time do too little for it."

    Subsequent communications from the White House were made through Harding's Secretary, George B. Christian. The group is rounded out by an interesting exchange of letters between Mrs. Williamson and Harding's sister a few years after Harding's death.

    A retained copy of a letter from Williamson (4pp. undated) to Carolyn Votaw offers help in refuting claims made in a book on Harding's affair with Nan Britton. Williamson writes: "Imagine my surprise in opening the books to find a snapshot of President Harding that my daughter had taken. I have the negatives in my possession. I never gave any away but one to a friend and one I sent to President Harding. I have a strong feeling it was stolen from his desk." She informs Votaw that she has copyrighted the images "before they fall into blackmailing hands."

    Votaw's response (2pp, November 29, 1927) is a carefully worded dismissal: "I have hesitated about advising you because of many false friends...Eight presidents have thus been attacked and all have had an heir to sue and suppress... if the family sued her gang they'd get the advertising they are wanting."

    All items are in near fine condition, save light soiling to the transmittal envelopes.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2011
    8th-9th Friday-Saturday
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