MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM "BILLY" MITCHELL - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 11/06/1926 - HFSID 2168
Billy Mitchell sends a rare important autograph letter accepting an engagement.
Rare Important Autograph Letter Signed: "Wm. Mitchell", 4p, 7¼x10½, front and verso. Boxwood, 1926 November 6. On his Mitchell crested stationery to his lecture agent, James B. Pond. Receipt stamp: "Ansd Nov 23 1926" below Mitchell's date of letter. In full: "To begin with I shall fill the engagement at Erie for the twenty third. This is to help you out more than anything else, as it makes things pretty hurried for me, because I have to be back here on the twenty fourth. I imagine I can get a train out of Erie that night. As I had heard nothing from you, the first news of the Erie engagement came as a good deal of a surprise. I could have gone before but not at the date set. This is about the way things are with me: from now until the 1st of February I do not care to make any engagements unless they are quite close and for sufficient remuneration. Five hundred dollars, I imagine is a good fee but in some ways it hardly pays. In others as far as publicity is concerned and in the way you handle it, it certainly does. If you could tell me the places you have in view and what the returns might be, I would be in a better position to judge (I want to give a lecture on the Pacific question, incidentally, as I have never before given a public one and one of this kind has never been given in America.) I imagine you understand my feelings in the matter. We have settled down here, it is our hunting season and I hate like h--- to leave even for a minute. Now about Annie Besant. I can have her out here, make some noise and maybe stir up a little interest. If you think I can, let me know and I shall try. I want to see McDonald anyway. I hope that you and Mrs. Pond can come down and really spend some time with us. With best regards and appreciation for what you have done." William "Billy" Mitchell wrote this letter from his home in Virginia just nine months after resigning from the Army on February 1, 1926. His lecture manager, James B. Pond, of New York, had successfully booked Mitchell to lecture nationwide for nearly a year. As Mitchell developed his oratory skills, he spoke to ever-increasing crowds with positive reception to his military ideals. Mitchell had been found guilty of insubordination on December 17, 1925, 11 months before this letter, following a two-month court-martial. The loss of the U.S. Army's dirigible Shenandoah led to his comment about the Army, which resulted in the court-martial. Mitchell said the loss was the result of "incompetency, criminal negligence, and almost treasonable administration of the national defense". Mitchell believed that air power was vital to national defense and that the Army mistreated the situation, neglecting equipment. He foresaw the necessity of an organized air force and would warn of Japanese supremacy. In this letter, he states his desire to "lecture on the Pacific question" which refers to his statement just seven months before writing this letter: "Asurprise aerial attack on Pearl Harbor will take place while Japanese negotiators talk peace with the U.S. officials. Moreover, the attack will come on a Sunday morning."Mitchell had entered the Army in 1898 to join the action in the Spanish-American War. By 1912, he had become the youngest member of Army General Staff. Following the outbreak of WWI in Europe, Mitchell received his first aviation assignment (1915) as part of the Signal Corps. His learning to fly aircraft in 1916 launched a lifelong advocacy of military air power. Once the U.S. entered the war in 1917, Mitchell proved himself as an exceptional air commander and led strategic bombing raids. His actions led to his being promoted to Brigadier General in October 1918. The armistice a month later ended his daring feats, and he was assigned to the position of Assistant Chief of the Army's Air Service. Thus began his persistent claims for improved air power. He proved the obsolescence of battleships by sinking several captured and outdated ships with limited, accurate bombing from the air. Mitchell's predictions were belatedly heeded, and the separate and fully functioning Army Air Forces (1941) was created during WWII. In 1947, the U.S. Air Force separated from the Army and became a separate branch of the Armed Services. A special posthumous Congressional Medal was presented to Mitchell's family in 1948, 12 years after Billy Mitchell's death. 1-inch paper clip tear on page 2 at upper left nicks 1 letter of 1 word. Horizontal folds, 1 touches signature. Framed in Gallery of History style: 41¾x21½.
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