Off-Topic V: Autographs of Famous and Notable Americans

Francis Hopkinson (1737-91) 

Founding Father, signer of the Declaration of Independence, member of the Second Continental Congress, author, composer, and one of the designers of the first official U.S. flag.

Signed document 

William Williams (1731-1811)

Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Connecticut delegate to the Continental Congress in 1776.

Autograph document with signature

Oliver Ellsworth (1745-1807)

Founding Father, 3rd Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, credited with suggesting the name “United States” for the newly formed republic.

Revolutionary War pay draft, signed on the lower right when Ellsworth was a member of Connecticut’s Committee of the Pay Table 

Henry Knox (1750-1806)

First U.S. Secretary of Defense (then called Secretary of War) under President George Washington, and a general during the Revolutionary War 

Albert Gallatin (1761-1849)

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under Presidents Jefferson and Madison, founder of New York University (1831-- then University of the City of New York), U.S. Congressman. 

Autograph note, signed 

James Madison (1751-1836), “Father of the Constitution”

Founding Father, Fourth President of the United States, Secretary of State under Thomas Jefferson. Between October of 1787 and August of 1788, Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay wrote and published the Federalist Papers, a series of 85 newspaper articles explaining to the public how the proposed U.S. Constitution would work.

Free frank signature as Secretary of State

Samuel Smith (1752-1839)

U.S. Senator and Representative from Maryland, General in the Maryland Militia during the War of 1812. Smith was the commanding general at the Battle of Baltimore during the defense of Fort McHenry when Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Free frank signature on address leaf 

Aaron Burr (1756-1836)

Vice President of the United States under Thomas Jefferson, U.S. Senator from New York, Colonel during the Revolutionary War.
Burr is best remembered today for mortally wounding his political rival Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, in a duel in 1804.

Portion of autograph document, signed 

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848)

6th President of the U.S., Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and Representative from Massachusetts.
Free franked address leaf 

Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), Old Hickory

7th President of the United States.
The only U.S. President to have killed a man in a duel. Also the only President to beat his would-be assassin senseless with a cane.

Autograph note, initialed and dated, on address leaf

Martin Van Buren (1782-1862)

8th President of the U.S., Vice President under Andrew Jackson, Secretary of State under Jackson. 

Henry Clay (1777-1852), “The Great Compromiser”

U.S. Representative and Senator from Kentucky, Speaker of the House, Secretary of State, three time Presidential candidate.

Free franked address leaf
Carte de visite  

Daniel Webster (1782-1852), “Godlike Dan”/“Black Dan”

U.S. Senator and Representative from Massachusetts, U.S. Secretary of State under Presidents Harrison, Tyler, and Fillmore, three time Presidential candidate.
“Nature had not in our days or not since Napoleon, cut out such a masterpiece.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, eulogizing Webster

Autograph note, signed

John Tyler (1790-1862)

10th President of the U.S., U.S. Senator and Representative from Virginia, Governor of Virginia.

Millard Fillmore (1800-74)

13th President of the U.S., Vice President under Zachary Taylor, U.S. Representative from New York.

Franklin Pierce (1804-69)

14th President of the U.S., U.S. Senator and Representative from New Hampshire.

Clipped signature, autograph address leaf 

Washington Irving (1783-1859)

Writer, diplomat, author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle.

Handwriting on address leaf

Horace Greeley (1811-72)

Newspaper editor, politician, social reformer, abolitionist.
“Go West, young man, go West.”

Signature, carte de visite

Stephen A. Douglas (1813-61), The Little Giant

U.S. Senator and Representative from Illinois

Autograph note, signed

Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910)

Social reformer, poet, author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Autograph note, signed; carte de visite

Ulysses S. Grant (1822-85)

18th President of the U.S., commanding general of all Union Armies during the Civil War.

William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-91)

Union Army general during the Civil War, commanding general of the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars.

Signed check; carte de visite

Philip H. Sheridan (1831-88)

Union Army general during the Civil War, General-in-Chief of the U.S. Army (following Sherman) during the latter part of the Indian Wars. 
Sheridan was a key figure in the protection and expansion of Yellowstone National Park. In 1882 he successfully lobbied Congress against a proposed railroad through the park, and the sale of 4,000 acres of land to developers. Fort Sheridan, Illinois, originally a U.S. Army post, was named after him.

Rutherford B. Hayes (1822-93)

19th President of the U.S., Governor of Ohio, U.S. Representative from Ohio

John A. Logan (1826-86)

Union general during the Civil War, congressman and senator from Illinois, Vice Presidential candidate in 1884.
Logan was a key figure in instituting Memorial Day as a national holiday.

Autograph note signed; advertising card

Carl Schurz (1829-1906)

Secretary of the Interior, Union General during the Civil War, German revolutionary, reformer.

Mark Twain, a.k.a. Samuel Langhorn Clemens (1835-1910)

Author and humorist.

Handwriting on envelope; British cigarette card, ca. 1900

James A. Garfield (1831-81)

20th President, U.S. Representative from Ohio 

Chester A. Arthur (1829-86)

21st President of the U.S., Vice President under Garfield 

Grover Cleveland (1837-1908)

22nd and 24th President of the U.S., Governor of New York, Mayor of Buffalo, N.Y.
Cleveland actually won the popular vote for the presidency in three consecutive elections, but lost the electoral vote in 1888 to Benjamin Harrison. He was the only Democrat to be elected president between 1860 and 1912.

Signature; cabinet card

Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901)

23rd President of the United States, U.S. Senator from Indiana, grandson of President William Henry Harrison.

Autograph note, signed; campaign ribbon

Thomas Nast (1840-1902), The Father of the American Cartoon

Caricaturist and editorial cartoonist, created the images of Uncle Sam and Santa Claus that are prevalent to this day.

Autograph note, signed

John Philip Sousa (1854-1932)

Conductor and composer of march tunes, including “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” “The Washington Post,” and “Semper Fidelis.”

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915)

Educator, author.

Joseph G. "Uncle Joe" Cannon (1836-1926)

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Representative from Illinois for a total of 46 years.

George Dewey (1837-1917), “The Hero of Manila”

U.S. Navy Admiral during the Spanish-American War.
On May 1, 1898, within six hours of his uttering the famous words, “You may fire when ready, Gridley,” Commodore Dewey’s Naval squadron had sunk or captured the entire Spanish fleet at Manila Bay.

Autograph note, signed

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

26th President of the U.S., Vice President under McKinley, Governor of New York, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Colonel of the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment (the Rough Riders) during the Spanish-American War.

William Howard Taft (1857-1930)

27th President of the U.S., Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Provisional Governor of Cuba, U.S. Secretary of War under T. Roosevelt, Governor-General of the Philippines.

Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924)

28th President of the U.S., Governor of New Jersey.

Autograph note to Secretary of War Newton Baker, initialed

Jane Addams (1860-1935)

Social reformer, author, sociologist, pacifist, advocate for women’s suffrage, founder of Hull House.

Charles Dana Gibson (1867-1944)

Created the “Gibson Girl,” icon of idealized American womanhood from the late 1890s through the early 1900s.

James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960)

Best known for his I Want You portrayal of Uncle Sam for U.S. Army recruiting posters, which were used in World Wars I and II (a 1940s window decal is shown here).

Daniel Chester French (1850-1931)

Best know for his sculpture of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.; Minute Man, Concord, Massachusetts; Republic, Chicago, Illinois (World's Columbian Exposition of 1893).

Autographed photo, signed

John J. “Black Jack” Pershing (1860-1948)

Commander of the American Expeditionary Forces during WWI, Pershing was the first U.S. Army officer to be promoted to full general (four stars) since Philip Sheridan in 1888.

Alvin C. York (1887-1964)

American hero of the Great War (WWI), recipient of the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Croix de Guerre (France), the Croce de Guerra al Merito (Italy), and the Montenegrin War Medal (Montenegro).
On October 8, 1918, during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France, Corporal York single-handedly silenced a nest of 32 German machine guns (which had his squad pinned down), killing 28 German soldiers, and capturing 132 more.

Warren G. Harding (1865-1923)

29th President, U.S. Senator from Ohio

Endorsed check

Charles G. Dawes (1865-1951)

Vice President under Calvin Coolidge, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, WWI General.
The melody to the popular song “It’s All in the Game” (a #1 hit for Tommy Edwards in 1958, also recorded by Dinah Shore, Louis Armstrong, and Van Morrison, among others) was based on Dawes’ 1911 composition “Melody in A Major.”

Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)

30th President of the United States, Governor of Massachusetts
My favorite Calvin Coolidge story (in fact it’s the only Calvin Coolidge story I know, and it’s probably apocryphal): Writer-poet Dorothy Parker, seated next to “Silent Cal” at a dinner, said to him, “Mr. Coolidge, I've made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you. ” Coolidge replied, “You lose.”

Grace Coolidge (1879-1957)

First Lady, 1929-33

Irving Berlin (1888-1989)

Songwriter. Among his best-known works are “White Christmas,” “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” and “God Bless America.”
This is a letter from Berlin to writer-director Garson Kanin and his wife, actress Ruth Gordon. It refers to his latest Broadway musical at the time, Miss Liberty. He has signed it “Irv.” The photo is of Berlin entertaining GIs in 1945.

Buster Keaton (1895-1966)

Comic actor and filmmaker.

John Ford (1894-1973)

Film director. 
Ford won four Oscars for Best Picture -- more than any other director -- plus two more for Short Subjects. Also served in the U.S. Navy, the OSS (WWII forerunner of the CIA), and the USNR, and was present at (and filmed much of) the Battle of Midway, where he was wounded. He retired an admiral. 
The mat board is inscribed To Dudley -- likely screenwriter Dudley Nichols, with whom Ford worked on several films, including the classic Stagecoach (1939) and The Informer (1935), which won Ford his first Oscar for Best Director.

Bing Crosby (1903-77)
Louis Armstrong (1901-71)

As a vocalist, Bing Crosby had more #1 recordings (38) and more hits (368) than any other recording artist in history, and virtually invented the preeminent style of 20th century popular singing. As a movie actor, he was the #1 box office star a record five consecutive years and won an Oscar for Best Actor (he was nominated three times). In an interview with Time magazine, Louis Armstrong described Bing’s voice as “like gold being poured out of a cup.”
Legendary trumpet and cornet player Louis Armstrong was simply the most important figure in the history of jazz music. Crosby once said of him, “American music begins and ends with Louis Armstrong.

Duke Ellington (1899-1974)

Pianist and bandleader Duke Ellington, one of the most innovative and influential figures in the history of jazz, was the genre's most prolific songwriter, having created nearly 2,000 compositions. In a career that spanned seven decades, he took jazz from its blues-based, dance-oriented origins to a level of sophistication on a par with classical music, while still remaining true to its roots. Music critic Ralph J. Gleason called him "America's greatest composer of any kind of music."

Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean (1910-1974)

Generally, I feel sports autographs belong in their own category, but “Ol’ Diz” was something of a folk hero during the Great Depression, and therefore a worthy exception. He endeared himself to the American public with his good-natured braggadocio and fractured English (via an Arkansas drawl), and was the last National League pitcher to win 30 games in a season. He would tell different reporters conflicting stories of his upbringing, his date of birth, and even his name, so that they would all have “scoops.” He led the colorful 1934 Cardinals (nicknamed the Gashouse Gang because of their rough and tumble style of play) to a World Series victory over the powerful Detroit Tigers.
My uncle got this autograph for me, on the back of one of his business cards, when he met Diz at a hardware convention in 1973.

Fiorello H. LaGuardia (1882-1947)

Mayor of New York City, U.S. Representative from New York

Herbert Hoover (1874-1964)

31st President of the United States, U.S. Secretary of Commerce under Presidents Harding and Coolidge, head of the U.S. Food Administration before and during WWI. 
As chairman of the Commission for Relief in Belgium, Hoover worked to feed that war torn nation for the duration of WWI, becoming an international hero. His reputation as a humanitarian has been lost to history in the wake of his inability to stem the tide of the Great Depression during his presidency.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945)

32nd President of the U.S., Governor of New York, Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

George C. Marshall (1880-1959)

General of the Army (five-star general), U. S. Army Chief of Staff, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

Joseph Rosenthal (1911-2006)

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his photograph of the second U.S. flag raising atop Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima, perhaps the most iconic image of WWII.

Harry S. Truman (1884-1972), "Give 'em Hell Harry"

33rd President, Vice President under F. Roosevelt, U.S. Senator from Missouri.
"The buck stops here."

Signed photo

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), "Ike"

34th President of the U.S., five star general, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe during WWII, Supreme Commander of NATO.

Typed letter, signed

Mamie Eisenhower (1896-1979)

First Lady 1953-61.

Evelyn Lincoln (1909-95)

Personal secretary to Senator and President John F. Kennedy.
Carbon copy of a typed letter requesting that President Kennedy stay at Bing Crosby's house in Palm Springs from June 7th through the 9th, 1963, and a handwritten note from Ms. Lincoln to the President, confirming that it is indeed OK to stay at Crosby's -- but on September 28th and 29th. 
This was the second time Kennedy stayed at Crosby's house, the first visit being the one that triggered Frank Sinatra's infamous temper tantrum that led to Ol' Blue Eyes shutting his friend Peter Lawford (JFK's brother-in-law and liaison between Sinatra and the President) out of his life for not persuading Kennedy to stay at his house -- which he'd recently had tricked out with such Presidential amenities as a heliport and teletype equipment for that very reason.

John H. Glenn, Jr. (born 1921)

Astronaut, first American to orbit the Earth, U.S. Senator from Ohio; later became the oldest human to travel in space, at age 77.

James A. Lovell, Jr. (b. 1928)

Astronaut, command module pilot of Apollo 8 (first manned mission to orbit the moon), commander of the Apollo 13 mission to the moon (which nearly ended in disaster due to equipment damage), recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin (born 1930)

Astronaut, second human to walk on the moon.

Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-73)

36 President of the U.S., Vice President under Kennedy, Senate Majority Leader, Senate Minority Leader, U.S. Senator and Representative from Texas.

Everett McKinley Dirksen (1896-1969)

Senate Minority Leader, U.S. Senator and Representative from Illinois.

Richard M. Nixon (1913-94)

37th President of U.S., Vice President under Eisenhower, U.S. Senator and Representative from California.

Henry Kissinger (born 1923)

Secretary of State, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Typed letter, signed

James Earl "Jimmy" Carter (born 1924)

39th President of U.S., Governor of Georgia.

Ronald W. Reagan (1911-2004)

40th President of U.S., Governor of California, film actor.

William H. Rehnquist (1924-2005)

Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

Colin Powell (born 1937)

U.S. Army Chief of Staff, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Secretary of State.

All autographs and images are from the collection of Jon Oye.

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