Description

    Wilson pays the very first of his "dollar-a-year men", the check that "coined" the expression!

    Woodrow Wilson Check Signed as President. 8.5" x 3.25", Washington, September 6, 1919, drawn on the Treasury for $1.00 payable to Clarence Dillon, for his service as vice chairman of the War Industries Board. The check is countersigned by Bernard Baruch, Chairman of the War Industries Board, and Dillon has added his endorsement signature on the verso. The check bears a printed memo, "Object for which drawn: In acknowledgment of patriotic and valuable services given voluntarily to the United States in time of war." The Texas-born Dillon (1882-1979) attended the Groton School, then Harvard where his connections enabled him to join the brokerage of William A. Read and Company. Following Read's death in 1916, Dillon purchased a majority stake in the firm that was renamed Dillon, Read & Co. in 1920. By 1957, Fortune magazine listed him as one of the wealthiest individuals in the United States with a fortune estimated $200 million. Dillon was asked to join the War Industries Board (W.I.B.) by Bernard Baruch, whom Woodrow Wilson had appointed as chairman in 1918. Baruch (1870-1965) was already a highly successful stock trader and financier when Wilson asked him to reorganize the board, which had been established in July 1917 to help manage the efficient production of war material after the U.S. entered the First World War. The W.I.B. set production quotas and allocated raw materials as well as dealing with labor-management disputes. The W.I.B., like many of the emergency agencies established as the United States mobilized for war, were run by prominent business executives who became known as "dollar-a-year men", as they only took token salaries for their services - a requirement of all federal employees. (This term became a bit of a pop culture phenomenon resulting in songs and even a 1921 film of the same name starring Fatty Arbuckle!) Baruch and Wilson were longtime friends. Following the latter's stroke in 1919, Baruch purchased a townhouse for Wilson and his wife to live in, purchasing the all surrounding properties in order to protect the privacy of the ailing President. This check is the first issuance of a $1 check and represents the initiation of an expression synonymous with public service! A remarkable piece of history.

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    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    3rd-4th Tuesday-Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
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