Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    William H. Taft Typed Letter Signed "Wm H Taft". Six pages, 8" x 10.5", New Haven, Connecticut; December 24, 1917. A letter addressed to his friend and Washington newspaper correspondent, Gus J. Karger, in which Taft criticizes President Wilson's handling of the U.S.'s entry into the First World War. Following the sinking of the Lusitania by a German U-Boat, the United States declared war on Germany and entered the war on April 6, 1917. Taft felt that the United States should be aligning itself more with England and that Wilson was not open to suggestions or advice about the war. He expressed his frustrations, in part:

    "In the turmoil of Washington life, and the pulling and halting and bitternesses that are engendered there, it is a good deal to keep your head level, to do justice and retain the respect and good will of all your colleagues. These elections are the best evidence that this is what you have done. I have been a good deal discouraged by my visits to Washington from what I hear there and what I hear elsewhere with reference to the manner in which the Administration is conducting itself in the discharge of its responsibilities in this war. One of the chief obstacles to success in the great work which the United States now has on hand is Wilson's selfish temperament...he loves idealistic phrases that sound well in his mouth and in the mouths of his admirers who repeat them, but they are neither constructive nor instructive...they contain little or nothing useful in its practical achievment [sic]. He is very like Micawber. When a crisis arises, calling on his for a declaration, he makes it and makes it effectively, and then having announced what he wishes done, he seems to consider that the thing is done and is done by reason of his having declared in favor of it. The mere labor of doing things is distasteful to him apparently...He secludes himself behind the walls of the White House and sees no one whom he does not consider pledged in advance to agree with everything he has done and agree with all his views reached by a kind of intuition without information....I send you a memorandum which I gave to George Vincent of the Rockefeller Foundation, which explains itself. The most discouraging thing in it is not that the President did not wish me or the others to go, but it is the failure to appreciate that England is making the great fight now and that we should tie up to England as much as possible and help her, as she wishes us to help her, by a closer union and greater unity of action. The truth is the President seems to think he is king of the universe and that he must tell these various nations just what they shall do or not do as he would tell the boys in his class...It is painful to think how opportunities are rejected by him without considering them and how on the other hand he wastes other opportunities by putting the improvement of them in the hands of incompetent, inexperienced persons." Taft then adds a personal postscript regarding his son leaving to fight in the war, "Charlie's regiment has come over from St. Asaph's to Tenafly, N.J. and is under orders for embarkation. I presume they may go a day or two after Christmas." Taft has added several hand-annotations throughout.

    Condition: Lightly toned throughout, with flattened folds and light foxing. Some dampstaining to lower right edge and rust impression from paperclip. Overall in good condition.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2019
    14th Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 304

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $300,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $300,000 and $3,000,000, plus 12.5% of any amount over $3,000,000 per lot.

    Sold on May 14, 2019 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2021 October 9 Americana & Political Signature Auction Featuring the Michael Ward Collection - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    The pre and post sales experience was wonderful and flawless. Heritage has the best in-house operation I have ever seen and their people are not only professional but fun to work with, especially Steve C.

    As for Heritage's online system… Yes the interface is more complex than what we are used to with SAN but what is behind that interface is amazing for sellers and buyers alike. It is real time and for a real serious auction buyer there is nothing better in the auction industry, bar none.
    Ron Cipolla,
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search