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    Woodrow Wilson Superb Autograph Letter Signed: Two weeks before the Treaty of Paris ended the Spanish-American War, Princeton Professor Woodrow Wilson tells an anti-imperialist that it is too late to protest and that our duty now is to devote time to think about "the new and momentous responsibilities to which the President [McKinley] has committed us."

    Signed: "Woodrow Wilson", one page, 5.25" x 7.75". Princeton, N.J., November 29, 1898. To James P. Munroe, Boston. In full: "My dear Sir, I am in receipt of your interesting letter of November 26th, accompanying a copy of the petition, or protest, of the Anti-Imperialist League. In reply, I am sorry to feel obliged to say that I think the time for such action as this as gone by. It seems to me our duty now to devote ourselves to careful thinking as to the best way of meeting the new and momentous responsibilities to which the President has committed us. With much respect, Very truly yours."

    James P. Munroe, a prominent Massachusetts paper manufacturer, had written to Wilson on stationery of the Anti-Imperialist Committees of Correspondence.

    Tensions between Spain and the United States rose out of the attempts by Cubans to liberate their island from the control of the Spanish. On February 15, 1898, the battleship U.S.S. Maine was blown up in Havana harbor killing 266 Americans. A U.S. Navy board of inquiry determined that a mine had detonated under the ship but did not place blame. The American public, fueled by sensational articles in Joseph Pulitzer's New York World and William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal, blamed Spain. Although he continued to press for a diplomatic settlement to the Cuban problem, on April 11th President McKinley asked Congress for permission to intervene. On April 21st, the President ordered the Navy to begin a blockade of Cuba and Spain followed with a declaration of war. Congress responded with a formal declaration of war on April 25, 1898. Key victories in Cuba and the Philippines led to a peace protocol on August 12th "embodying the terms of a basis for the establishment of peace" between Spain and the United States. On December 10, 1898, the Treaty of Paris was signed ending the war. Spain freed Cuba and ceded Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the United States. The United States was now a world power.

    Anti-Imperialists disapproved of the United States acquiring an island empire. The Anti-Imperialist League was founded in Boston in November, 1898. Woodrow Wilson, 41-year-old professor of jurisprudence and political economy at Princeton University, most probably was asked to sign a petition or support a protest of the acquisition by the United States of the Caribbean and Pacific islands mentioned in the August 12th peace protocol. Wilson points out that it comes too late, that President McKinley had already committed the United States to the proposed treaty, and that it is "our duty now to devote ourselves to careful thinking as to the best way of meeting the new and momentous responsibilities." He was also expressing his support of the treaty in his lectures.

    Despite America's previous policy of isolationism, President McKinley led the nation into the Spanish-American War. Almost 20 years later, President Wilson brought America into World War I and onto the international stage declaring "the world must be made safe for democracy."

    This letter is in very fine condition with light toning in the right portion. Letters in which one President writes about another President are scarce and extremely desirable. This one, associating two war Presidents, would make an exceptional addition to a Spanish-American War or presidential collection. From the Gary Grossman Collection.

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    Auction Info

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