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Lot 146A: President Wilson Typed Letter to his Secretary of Treasury and son-in-law McAdoo
Presidential Letters, Free Franks & Speeches: Washington to Bush + Important Autographs in History, Science & the Arts
26 October 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: “I am glad that there are men who have the thoughtfulness and public spirit to send you and us such words of encouragement” ********** WILSON, WOODROW. (1856-1924). Twenty-eighth president of the United States. TLS. (“Woodrow Wilson”). 1p. Small 4to. Washington, D.C., October 8, 1914. Wilson writes on White House stationery to his son-in-law and treasury secretary WILLIAM GIBBS MCADOO (1868-1941), familiarly known as “Mac.” ********** “Thank you for having let me see the enclosed letters. They were certainly entirely deserved and I am glad that there are men who have the thoughtfulness and public spirit to send you and us such words of encouragement…”********** Wilson’s first wife, Ellen Axson, died on August 6, 1914, within days of the outbreak of war in Europe, and while “his wife’s death had shattered [his] private world...the President knew that the public universe with which he was familiar, the stage on which hitherto his part was played, had been shattered, too,” (Woodrow Wilson: A Biography, Heckscher). Despite the tumult in his private life, Wilson continued to pass major reforms and react to the volatility of a world at war. ********** McAdoo was a businessman who, as president of the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad Company, completed the first tunnel to link New York City and New Jersey. He served as vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee before joining Wilson’s 1912 presidential campaign, and with Wilson’s victory, McAdoo was appointed treasury secretary, a post he held until 1918. In 1914, McAdoo became Wilson’s son-in-law when he married Eleanor Randolph Wilson in a White House ceremony, though the couple divorced in 1935. As treasury secretary, McAdoo averted an economic depression by closing the New York Stock Exchange for four months beginning on July 31, 1914, to prevent warring European nations from liquidating their investments and depleting America’s gold stores. He also oversaw the establishment of a central bank which stabilized the U.S. economy. His actions helped the U.S. move into a position of creditor on the international stage, making it an international financial power. ********** “By the late fall of 1914, things were falling into place. The Federal Reserve Banks formally opened in November 1914. The dollar rallied against the British pound. Shipping traffic revived, and foreign buyers paid in gold, which allowed American banks to start phasing out the emergency currency. The New York Stock Exchange reopened on Dec. 12, 1914. And as the United States stuck to the gold standard and emerged as a peaceful hub of trade, the dollar gained greater… currency and respect. The United States, for so many years a global borrower, was well on the way to becoming a global lender. In October 1915, J. P. Morgan & Co. sold a landmark $500 million bond issue for Britain and France to U.S. investors,” (“The Unknown Financial Superhero,” Slate, Gross). ********** In addition to these accomplishments, McAdoo played a leading role in financing U.S. participation in World War I, most notably by issuing the famous Liberty Bonds. After leaving Wilson’s cabinet, he twice unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for president and served five years in the Senate. ********** Our letter, written during McAdoo’s bold closing of the New York Stock Exchange, bears some dust staining and normal wear. In very good condition.