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    William H. Taft Excellent Lengthy Autograph Quote Signed: A month after he eulogized his predecessor, Taft quotes from his memorial address delivered at Yale a day before what would have been Theodore Roosevelt's 61st birthday.

    Signed: "Wm H Taft", one page, 5" x 7.75". New Haven, Connecticut, November 29, 1919. On his personal stationery, headed by Taft: "Excerpt from memorial address delivered Woolsey Hall, Yale University New Haven, Conn., Oct. 26th 1919". In full: "Theodore Roosevelt had the rare power of communicating his enthusiasm to the humblest of his followers. They liked to think as he did. They liked to act as he did. Therefore he lives. Therefore his spirit speaks. We must seize the standard that fell from his hand and carry it high before us to overcome the enemies of our beloved country and to preserve to our posterity that Americanism which he did so much to make dear. This is the precious legacy which he left to the American people. This is the good which lives after him." Vice President Theodore Roosevelt became President on September 14, 1901, after President McKinley was assassinated. McKinley had appointed Taft Governor General of the Philippines on July 4, 1901. President Roosevelt knew that Taft's ambition was to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, so, in 1903, when a vacancy occurred, Roosevelt offered to appoint Taft Associate Justice. When the Filipinos asked him to remain in Manila, Taft reluctantly acceded to their request. In 1904, Roosevelt appointed Taft Secretary of War. In 1906, there was another Court vacancy. This time, President Roosevelt, who was not going to seek another term in 1908, told Taft, in part, "You could do very much if you were on the bench; you could do very much if you were in active political life outside. I think you could do most as President...There are strong arguments against your taking this justiceship. In the first place, my belief is that of all the men who have appeared so far you are the man who is most likely to receive the Republican nomination, and who is, I think, the best man to receive it." With Roosevelt's full support, at the 1908 Republican National Convention, Taft was easily nominated for President on the first ballot, and easily defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan, 321-162 electoral votes. Three days later, Roosevelt wrote to a friend, "Taft will carry on the work substantially as I have carried it on. His policies, principles, purposes and ideals are the same as mine." But TR was wrong. In 1911, he wrote, "Taft is utterly hopeless...he has shown himself an entirely unfit President."

    In 1912, Roosevelt sought to wrest the Republican presidential nomination from President Taft. For the first time, twelve states chose to have presidential primaries choose convention delegates. Roosevelt won nine primaries, eight by landslides. The remaining delegates were chosen in state and local conventions, mostly controlled by Taft supporters. At the Republican National Convention, Taft was nominated on the first ballot with 561 delegate votes to TR's 107. Most of Roosevelt's delegates walked out and held a meeting where it was decided to bolt the Republican Party and found a new party. Roosevelt agreed to lead a new party if nominated and, in August, the new Progressive Party chose Roosevelt by acclamation as their candidate for President. In the November 5, 1912, election, for the only time in U.S. history, a major party finished third. Democrat Woodrow Wilson, with 435 electoral votes, defeated Roosevelt (88 votes) and Taft (8 votes). In most states, Wilson received less than 50% of the popular vote, but more than Roosevelt or Taft. In 1916, Roosevelt spoke about his relationship with Taft: "The break in our relations was due to no one thing, but to the cumulative effect of many things - the abandonment of everything my Administration had stood for, and other things...he at once set about undoing all my Administration had done."

    In 1916, as a symbol of Republican unity, Taft and Roosevelt appeared at rallies for Charles Evans Hughes who had resigned his seat on the Supreme Court to run against President Wilson. Taft later wrote how glad he was "that Theodore and I came together after that long painful interval. Had he died in a hostile state of mind toward me, I would have mourned the fact all my life. I loved him and cherish his memory."

    Taft had become a Professor at Yale University in 1913, four weeks after leaving the White House. Theodore Roosevelt died at his Oyster Bay, Long Island, home at Sagamore Hill, on January 6, 1919. On October 26, 1919, a day before TR would have celebrated his 61st birthday, William H. Taft spoke at a memorial service held in Woolsey Hall at Yale University in honor of Theodore Roosevelt. On November 29, 1919, Taft wrote this excerpt for a collector. Two years later, Taft achieved his lifelong goal when he was appointed Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by President Harding.

    Also included is a White House card signed: "Theodore Roosevelt," 4" x 2.75". It is dated in an unknown hand, "Mar 3 - '09," indicating it was signed on TR's last day in office, the day before Taft was inaugurated President. Included with Taft's tribute and the Roosevelt White House card are two photographs of Taft and Roosevelt together.

    This moving tribute by a President to his predecessor and the signed White House card are each in extra fine condition. They would be a superb addition to a presidential collection. From the Gary Grossman Collection.


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2007
    16th-17th Monday-Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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