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Lot 146: Woodrow Wilson Mentions "the Vexed Adriatic Question" and Plans for Biography
Presidential Letters, Free Franks & Speeches: Washington to Bush + Important Autographs in History, Science & the Arts
26 October 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: Mentioning “the vexed Adriatic question” and Discussing Plans for his Biography********** WILSON, WOODROW. (1856-1924). Twenty-eighth president of the United States. TLS. (“Woodrow Wilson”). 1p. 4to. Washington, D.C., January 5, 1922. On his 2340 S Street NW stationery. To Columbia geography professor DOUGLAS W. JOHNSON (1878-1944) who, as chief of the Division of Boundary Geography on the American Commission to Negotiate Peace, advised Wilson on Adriatic and Balkan questions during the Paris Peace Conference. ********** “Of course I recall, and with real gratitude, the matter of the assistance you gave me in the matter of the vexed Adriatic question when we were in Paris; and the use you suggest making of your records seems to me just the right one. I have entire confidence in Stannard Baker, and I suggest you get in early communication with him and you and he together work out the best method of using your material. I sincerely appreciate your offer of assistance in this matter, and honor the motives which prompted it. No doubt you know Baker’s address is Amherst, Massachusetts. With pleasant recollections of our association in Paris, and most cordial good wishes for the New Year and the years to come; cordially and faithfully yours…” ********** From January 7 to February 14 and March 14 to June 18, 1919, Wilson participated in the Paris Peace Conference, at which the Allied victors of World War I established the terms of the peace. In so doing, he became the first American president to travel to Europe while in office. The conference’s arduous negotiations culminated in the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919 and the subsequent establishment of the League of Nations, the precursor of the United Nations. For his efforts to establish a lasting peace, Wilson won the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize (awarded in 1920). ********** During World War I, muckraking journalist and Wilson supporter Ray Stannard Baker (1870-1946) went to Europe to keep the president informed about current events; during the Paris Peace Conference, Baker acted as Wilson’s press secretary. The pair maintained a close relationship and Baker became Wilson’s biographer, publishing The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson (6 volumes published 1925-1927) and Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters (8 volumes published 1927-1939). Our letter is undoubtedly an early reference to Baker’s biographical undertaking. ********** Johnson, a world-renowned expert in his field, defended the treaties negotiated at Versailles in 1942, refuting the notion that the boundaries drawn at the peace conference contributed to causing World War II. “An expert on geo-morphology, Professor Johnson was instrumental in settling Balkan boundary disputes at Versailles. ‘No one factor determined a boundary,’ he recalls. Ethnic questions and problems of national economy were primary factors, but topography had to be considered to insure geographical unity of the new nations,’” (“Johnson Refutes War Guilt of Versailles,” Columbia Daily Spectator, Oppenheimer). ********** Following the Versailles conference and against his doctor’s wishes, Wilson undertook a strenuous nationwide tour to promote America’s joining the League; in the midst of his travels, however, he had a nervous collapse and, several days later, back in Washington, suffered a debilitating stroke. After his second term ended in March 1921, he moved to S Street, located in the Kalorama section of Washington’s elegant Embassy row, where his wife continued to keep his physical condition hidden from the public. Wilson’s S Street home is now a museum operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. ********** Folded with normal wear and in very good condition.