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Letter shows the Agriculture Secretary busily involved in efforts to secure President Taft's re-nomination.
Typed Letter signed: "James Wilson" as Secretary of Agriculture, 1 page, 8x10¼. Washington, D.C., 1912 January 15. On official letterhead to John A. Stewart, New York City. In full: "I have your letter of January 12th. I have given the President and the people at the White House who are trying to look after matters in Mr. Taft's interests, authority to call on me at any time to go wherever they want me to go, and I have kept myself in readiness for that. If a hurry call should come to go to some of the states that are getting ready to hold primaries they would like to have me ready to respond. This I know by talking matters over with them. I think you and Judge Hedges are entirely equal to the situation just now. There are a great many places where the people want something done where they can get nobody from the outside; and this is the impression I get from the White House also. My interest in your folks has not abated at all. I should enjoy talking to them, but I dislike to take the bit out of the hands of the White House people in sending me wherever they think I can do the most good. Sincerely yours". James Wilson (1835-1920), born in Scotland, represented Iowa in the US House (1873-1877, 1883-1885). In the very close election of 1882, he was certified as the winner by the State of Iowa, but the new Democratic majority in the House challenged his seat. He held onto it, amidst controversy, until the very end of the Congressional session, when he resigned to avoid a filibuster which would have blocked action on a military pension for former President Grant. Wilson was Secretary of Agriculture under Presidents McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt and Taft (1897-1913) for a total of 16 years, the longest tenure ever for a US Cabinet officer. In 1912, President Taft faced a challenge from former President Theodore Roosevelt, who had handpicked Taft as his successor but later become disillusioned with him. The result was a bitter fight for the Republican Party's Presidential nomination, Roosevelt's bolting of the Party to run as the candidate of the Progressive ("Bull Moose" Party), and the victory of Democrat Woodrow Wilson in the general election. Taft's support in the Republican Party organization was sufficient to secure the nomination, but he ran a poor third in the popular and electoral vote in November. The "primaries" to which Wilson refers were unlike the current system of delegate selection by popular vote. In most states, these primaries were merely caucuses among delegates hand-picked by state party leaders, with face to face meetings more effective in reaching them than any ad campaign in the modern style. Wilson, as Secretary of Agriculture and a former farm state Congressman, was no doubt of more use in nailing down delegates from that region than from New York, Teddy Roosevelt's home state in any case. Multiple mailing folds. Corners lightly creased. Otherwise, fine condition.

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Born: August 16, 1835 in Ayrshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
Died: August 26, 1920 in Traer, Iowa

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