PRESIDENT THEODORE ROOSEVELT - AUTOGRAPH LETTER UNSIGNED 05/30/1911 - HFSID 286035
Sale Price $5,950.00
This typed 1911 letter, addressed to a New York newspaper, contains numerous corrections in Roosevelt's hand. It's a scathing letter regarding a court decision and the newspaper's support for that decision - a decision that Roosevelt said violated one of the core philosophies of the Republican Party. This was written one year before Roosevelt tried to wrest the Republican presidential nomination from William Howard Taft - and, failing that, embarked on a third-party run under the Progressive banner. Public figures rarely commit such strong sentiments to writing, which makes this letter especially rare and significant.
Superb content draftTyped Letter, heavily corrected with 216 words in Roosevelt's hand, not signed, on his personal letterhead, "The Outlook", "Office of Theodore Roosevelt", 2p, 7¾x9½, separate sheets. New York, May 30, 1911.To Mr. C.H. Betts, The Lyons Republican, 41 Williams Street, Lyons, N ew York. Most probably the final draft. In part: "Really it is hard to believe that you read my article on the courts, because if you had it would be quite impossible for you it is an absurdity to say that I had desired the court to render decisions in favor of the views of particular men or the temporary sentiment of the hour, and ignore constitutions and the law'. My contention is that the Court of Appeals in this case rendered a decision simply in accordance with the temporary sentiments of certain particular men at this hour, and ignored the Constitution and the laws as [John] Marshall always interpreted both constitution and laws, and that it their conduct was a most flagrant and wanton abuse of a great power, an abuse which I if continued will render it the duty of all patriotic men to take steps that will at least minimize the chance of such action in the future...It is simply nonsense to suppose that this country will tolerate permanently a line of action like that you are upholding on the part of the Court of Appeals... My plea is for rational growth; my plea is that the court act with ordinary statesmanship, ordinary regard for the Constitution as a living aid to growth, not as a straight-jacket; ordinary regard for the laws, the rights of humanity, and the growth of civilization. I wish to state with all emphasis that no man who takes the opposite ground to that which I have taken in the article in question has any right to be on the bench; and it is a misfortune to have him there. One Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and three Four Federal Judges, of the United States' Courts, have written me since that article appeared, stating that they absolutely agree with it...My dear Mr. Betts have you forgotten that the Republican party was founded largely to protect against the very type of view concerning the courts which you uphold? Have you forgotten Lincoln's repeated strictures on the Supreme Court for the Dred Scott decision? That decision was worse in degree, but not in kind, than the one which I assail. Have you forgotten what Lincoln wrote in his first inaugural unless (in justifying the position he had repeatedly taken that he would endeavor to secure a reversal of its Dred Scott decision - just as I wish the New York decision reversed). 'If the policy of the government, upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the (Court) the people will have ceased to be their own rulers.' I protest against this servile view merely as Abraham Lincoln protested. Sincerely yours." THIS LETTER WAS RETYPED, DATED JUNE 2, 1911, AND SENT TO CHARLES H. BETTS.A paperback volume with the lengthy title of Betts-Roosevelt Letters: A Spirited and Illuminating Discussion on a Pure Democracy, Direct Nominations, the Initiative, the Referendum and the Recall and the New York State Court of Appeals' Decision in the Workmen's Compensation Case was published in 1912. It's an account of an exchange of letters between Charles H. Betts and Theodore Roosevelt in 1911. The draft letter offered here is published in its final form in this book. In their correspondence, Betts and Roosevelt engaged in a debate (reprinted as a series of editorials in "The Lyons Republican" newspaper) over a New York State Court of Appeals case involving the nomination of judges that resulted in an exchange over pure or direct democracy versus representative democracy. Roosevelt had written an article in "The Outlook" magazine about the case.Betts had written Roosevelt, in part: "If the time ever comes when the courts of this country interpret the laws in harmony with ignorant public sentiment, fanned into flame by uninformed and ignorant yellow journals, it will be a sad day for this Republic." Roosevelt's reply was this letter. Betts responded to this letter,in part: "We who believe in the system of representative government, do trust the people. We trust them to act for themselves within the circle of activity where they can obtain correct information to act upon. We are in favor of trusting the people to pick out their candidates and their delegates in their immediate community." STRONG WORDS LIKE THIS FROM SUCH AN IMPORTANT AMERICAN AS THEODORE ROOSEVELT RARELY APPEAR IN WRITING. 216 words handwritten by Roosevelt! Lightly stained at margins. Slightly soiled and creased.
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