PRESIDENT WARREN G. HARDING - COLLECTION WITH ROBERT F. WAGNER JR., JAMES WOLCOTT WADSWORTH, JR., GEORGE B. CHRISTIAN - HFSID 288353
Sale Price $6,162.50
Archive of letters written by and to the President, his aides and sister, including a letter offering evidence to refute Nan Britton's claim that Harding was father of her child. Accompanying memorabilia includes vintage photos of Harding, and passes signed by two prominent US Senators.
Collection includes: 1) Autograph Letter signed: "W.G.H.", 1 page, 5½x6¾ with blank integral leaf. No place, May 22, n. d., but with original mailing envelope postmarked Washington, D.C., May 22, 1917. To Mrs. Charles Williamson, in full: "Thank you for your note and clipping. Am glad to have both. Funny thing - I have a letter from California signed Ruth Williamson, who writes as though she knows me. Isn't that your daughter's name? But surely your daughter is not that far away. I am to be in New York either on Thursday, 24th, or Tuesday, 29th. One or the other is sure, possibly both. I'll be delighted to look you up. With assurances of high esteem, I am sincerely yours". Multiple mailing folds. Toned at folds. Multiple minor ink smudges. Otherwise, fine condition. 2) Autograph Letter signed: "Your Friend" [Harding], 2 pages (integral leaf), 4¾x6½. No place, October 20, but with original mailing envelope to Mrs. Jennie Williamson in New York City, postmarked Washington, D.C., October 20, 1917. To "Dear Mrs. W.", in full: "I thought ere this I need to see you personally and answer your written inquiry. I was in N.Y. on the 18th, but only for three hours, and your phone did not answer. I really know nothing of the earning capacity of the young man, except that in an official way his limit is $1800. There are side earnings for the extra industrious, perfectly honorable and legitimate, but I do not know of his capacity or opportunity. I wish I might write you more satisfactorily, but I can not. I shall probably get to N. Y. before resuming work, but it will not be before late in November. I am leaving Monday for the S. West and will not return until November 20. I am anxious to rest and soothe my nerves, and get away from all endeavor. Most of us are worn to a frazzle. I hope we will see you all come next winter. It is a pleasure to greet you. Of course the City is full and running over, but there is always a room. Please be assured of my very cordial regards, and am always interested to meet your wishes. Very sincerely". Multiple mailing folds. Toned at folds. Multiple minor ink smudges. Otherwise, fine condition. 3) Typed Letter signed: "Warren G. Harding", 1 page, 6x8¼. Marion, Ohio, 1920 November 1. On US Senate letterhead to Mrs. Jennie B. Williamson, New York City. In full: "I want to thank you for your very gracious and cordial letter of October twenty-sixth, and to express my appreciation of your good wishes. Please remember me very kindly to your daughter be assured of my own very high esteem to you. Sincerely". Accompanied by original, matching transmittal envelope. Lightly toned. One horizontal mailing fold. Otherwise, fine condition. 4) Typed Letter signed: "Warren G. Harding", 1 page, 7¼x10½. January 21, 1921, with original mailing envelope addressed to Mrs. Jennie B. Williamson, New York City, postmarked Saint Augustine, Florida, January 22, 1921. On personal letterhead, in full: "Mr. Christian has handed me your letter of January 18th. I have noted with interest all you say therein, and I can understand how you feel as you do and how you aspire to improve your conditions. I would be very glad to grant to you the requested interview, but I do not see how it will be possible at the present time for I have a tremendously lot of pressing work and not half time enough to do the things which are demanding my attention. After I am properly settled in Washington I will be glad to have you call and I will see then, in personal interview, what can be done to meet the aspirations of yourself and your daughter. I note your request for tickets to the inauguration. Evidently you have not noted that there has been a complete abandonment of the Inaugural program. There is to be no function to which admission is granted by ticket and I know of no ceremony for which there are to be seats assigned. The whole thing is to be of the very simplest character, though I suppose it will be very unsatisfactory to those who are accustomed to being seated. With very best wishes to both you and your daughter, I am, Very truly yours". Two horizontal mailing folds. Otherwise, fine condition. 5) Typed Letter signed: "Geo. B. Christian" as Secretary to the President, 1 page, 5½x9. Washington, D.C., 1921 March 28. On White House stationery to Mrs. C. M. Williamson. In full: "Your letter of March twenty-third has been called to the attention of the President, and he has asked me to say in reply that he will be glad to see you at the Executive Offices when you are in Washington, provided your visit here is at a time when he can include you in the program of the day. I think it is safe to say that you can be given a brief interview on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday after April fifteenth. If you will present this letter at the White House the arrangement will be made. Very truly yours". Accompanied by original, matching transmittal envelope. Multiple mailing folds. Lightly toned around edges. Otherwise, fine condition. 6) Typed Letter signed: "Geo. M. Christian" as Secretary to the President, 1 page, 5½x9. Washington, D.C., 1922 September 13. On White House stationery to Mrs. Jennie Williamson. In full: "The President has seen your letter of September 10th and he asks me to convey assurances of his very grateful consideration. He will be glad to tell Mrs. Harding, at a suitable time, of your expression of sympathy and interest. Sincerely yours". Multiple mailing folds. Lightly toned and creased. Otherwise, fine condition. 7) Autograph Letter signed: "Jennie Wilson/(Mrs. C. M.", 4 pages, 11x7 open flat,5½x7 folded. New Rochelle, N.Y., n. d. To "My dear Mrs. Votaw" [Carolyn Harding Votaw], 4 pages (integral leaf), In full: "A book, 'The President's Daughter', has been brought to my attention by friends who are aware of the fact that I knew President Harding very well. If you care for my assistance in suppressing same I will gladly give it. Imagine my surprise upon opening the book to find a snapshot of President Harding that my daughter had taken. I have the negatives in my possession. I never gave any away but one to a friend, and one I sent to President Harding. I have a strong feeling it was stolen from his desk. The author says he sent it to her in June 1917 with a forty page love letter. As a matter of fact I saw it in his possession in January 1918. I can contradict many of her statements as there was also a picture of President Harding and myself taken at the same time and given to him. I feel it is safer to have them copyrighted before they fall into blackmailing hands. Am taking steps in that direction. [second Williamson signature here, crossed out, when she evidently decided to add to the letter] Should you or Mr. Votaw come to New York City at any time I would be very glad to talk with you and give you all the assistance possible. Yours sincerely". Edges frayed. Lightly toned. One vertical mailing fold through center. Otherwise, fine condition. 8) Autograph Letter signed: "Carolyn H. Votaw", 2 pages (front and verso), 6x7½. Takoma Park (Maryland), 1927 November 29. To "My dear Mrs. Williamson", in full: "Your note rec'd and I have hesitated about advising you because of many false friends. You have no idea of the gang back of that book. Gold diggers. We have ignored it. Eight Presidents have thus been attacked but all have had an heir to sue and suppress. The law says only a direct heir can do that so our position is a sad one. He had no child or grandchild. They know all that. It would be a good thing if someone did go after her - but if her family sued the gang they'd get the advertising they are wanting. Time will take care of the whole thing and bring retribution, you see. Friends don't believe it and it will I believe result in legislation to protect dead Presidents. Thanking you for your kindly interest, I am cordially". Edges frayed. Lightly creased with multiple mailing folds. Otherwise, fine condition. 9) Typed Letter signed: "Robert F. Wagner" as US Senator, 1 page, 8x10½. Washington, D.C., 1928 December 4. To Doorkeeper, the White House. In full: "I will appreciate the favor if my constituents named below [Mrs. Jennie Williamson of New York] may have the privilege of meeting the President and being shown through the White House. Sincerely yours". 10 Two unsigned candid sepia photographs, one showing Warren Harding on the steps of the US Capitol, the other showing Harding near Washington's Union Station with a woman (presumably Mrs. Williamson, as mentioned in her letter #6 above). Accompanied by a partly printed form (with transmittal envelope) from the Library of Congress Copyright Office, certifying Mrs. Williamson as the author of two photographs. Also accompanied by Autograph Note, unsigned, but obviously written by Jennie Williamson, probably to Carolyn Votaw. In full: "Warren G. Harding and myself, taken eleven years ago when he was Senator. Ethel took the picture. Union Station in background. My relatives living in Ohio were friends of his. He stood nearer to me but I stepped away. Note old fashioned dress. Am sending this only to prove to you that I was not writing crazy nonsense. You can tear these snaps up if you think best, but if you do, send the two of my cousin and myself back instead." The rest of the items are assorted memorabilia related to President Harding and the US Senate. 11) Printed thank you note from the President and Mrs. Harding, with transmittal envelope to Mrs. Charles M. Williamson, postmarked January 3, 1922. 12) Pass to the US Senate Chamber for Mrs. C. M. Williamson & friends, dated May 7, 1921, signed: "J. Wadsworth, Jr" as US Senator. 13) Typed thank you note from "Geo. M. Christian" as Secretary to Senator Harding (July 2, 1920), thanking Mrs. Williamson on Harding's behalf for sending him a copy of "Allah's Prayer." 14) Printed invitation from Col. Thomas Fairservice to Mrs. C. Williamson and daughter to witness a review by President Harding of the 23rd Infantry, New York National Guard at the Armory in Brooklyn, May 23, 1921. WARREN GAMALIEL HARDING (1865-1923), a newspaper editor in Marion, Ohio, was that State's Lieutenant Governor and then US Senator (1915-1921) before being elected the 29th President of the United States in 1920. Campaigning on the slogan "back to normalcy," Republican Harding interpreted his victory as a repudiation of the international commitments, especially the League of Nations, and the governmental activism which had characterized the Democratic administration of Woodrow Wilson. Harding took a restrictive view of Presidential powers reminiscent of many 19th century Presidents, in contrast to the activism of a Wilson, or - within his own Party, Teddy Roosevelt. While he made some competent appointments, including Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes and Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, he is generally faulted for entrusting too much power to dishonest cronies, including Attorney General Harry Daugherty. The result was burgeoning scandals, like the sale of government oil reserves in the Teapot Dome scandal. His untimely death in office spared him knowledge of some of the worst revelations, but Harding is generally ranked near the bottom in polls of scholars rating the Presidents. Further diminishing his reputation - justly or unjustly - were claims of infidelity and promiscuity - most spectacularly the claims of Nan Britton, a young woman from Harding's home town who claimed in a book mentioned above, The President's Daughter (1927), that Harding had trysts with her before and during his Presidency and fathered her daughter. Most historians agree that Harding did have an enduring extramarital affair with a married woman, Carrie Fulton Phillips, before he entered the White House, but there is vigorous debate about whether Nan Britton's claims are truthful or not. She lost a court suit, failing to produce any evidence of the alleged affair and paternity beyond her own assertions. The evidence offered by Mrs. Williamson in this archive may indeed be relevant, casting further doubt on Britton's tale. The other letters, which begin this sequence, are a rather familiar tale. A Presidential candidate must secure as many friends as possible, but some of these will have unrealistic expectations of what a President can or should do for them. It's interesting to note the polite but evident distancing which occurs after Harding becomes President, and replies noncommittally as to "what can be done to meet the aspirations of yourself and your daughter" [#4 above]. Ironically, one of the principal criticisms of Harding is that he did too much to help his friends. After the death of President Harding, Mrs. Williamson must turn to New York's Senators to secure access to the halls of government, hence the letter to the White House Doorkeeper from Senator Robert Wagner, and the Senate Chamber Pass from Senator ROBERT F. WAGNER (1877-1953), formerly a lieutenant governor and Justice of the New York Supreme Court, represented New York in the US Senate (1927-1949), introducing major legislation, including the Social Security Act. JAMES W. WADSWORTH, JR. (1877-1952) was a US Senator from New York (1915-1927), a leading opponent of both women's suffrage and of prohibition. Defeated for re-election, he returned to the US House (1933-1951). Wagner was a Democrat, Wadsworth a Republican. CAROLYN HARDING VOTAW (1979-1951), previously a missionary and a probation officer, headed the social service division of the Public Health Service during her brother's Presidency. Her husband Heber H. Votaw, was Superintendent of Prisons. GEORGE B. CHRISTIAN, formerly a salesman and Harding's next door neighbor in Ohio, accompanied Harding to Washington as his Secretary in the US Senate and the White House. He helped the widow, Mrs. Florence Harding, settle affairs after her husband's death, and served on the planning committee for the US sesquicentennial celebrations of (1926). Nan Britton claimed in her book that she registered for hotel assignations Harding under the name of Elizabeth N. Christian, and later gave that name to her daughter. Aside from the content of these letters, further research would be required to develop a biography of Mrs. Jennie Williamson.
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