Lot 388    

Adolph Lewisohn, New York Investment Banker & Mining Magnate, Collection of Letters To and From Taft, Harding, Coolidge, & Other Politicians Regarding the World Court
12/7/2012- American History: Live Salesroom Auction
World Court Correspondence, 2 vols. (77 items in two volumes)
 
In the years after the First World War, Lewisohn developed a keen interest in supporting the League of Nations and the idea of a World Court as a means of providing nations with an alternative to warfare for resolving disputes.  The staunch opposition of Republican isolationists in the Congress ensured that the World Court never received the full support of the U.S.
 
This collection of correspondence to and from Lewisohn provides insight into his tactics for raising support for international peace efforts.  Among the many letters to and from political mavens are sixteen addressed to U.S. presidents, past and present, most retained copies, with six letters in return: four from Calvin Coolidge (as president), one from Warren G. Harding (as president), and one from William Howard Taft (as justice of the Supreme Court).Although the letters are not particularly long, they provide important insight into the changes in international diplomacy in the U.S. after the Great War, with few of the politicians quite willing to tip their hat in a controversial matter, but all nevertheless revealing their position.
 
In his letter, Harding thanks Lewisohn for his support for the International Court of Justice, writing optimistically about its prospects for approval: I do not know that there will be any specially organized movement to either enlist or create favorable public sentiment.  The court proposition is so thoroughly in harmony with a policy which has been strongly proclaimed throughout the United States for more than twenty years that I have believed it need only be stated frankly and clearly to the American people to develop an overwhelming sentiment which will impel our cordial cooperation in making the court an agency of justice which will meet the best aspirations of the world today.  May 10, 1923.  For his part, Taft was more cautious: I am afraid the World Court has got to go over until the next Congress, but if they ever get to a vote, I feel a real hope that it will go through the Senate.  I think that if you can influence any Senators on the subject, it would be good to do so.  Given the current politicized nature of the Supreme Court (not that it was much better in the past), Taft’s reluctance to engage directly in political lobbying seems almost quaint: Of course I am on the Bench now and I have to avoid any activity that looks like politics, but you are not so restricted, and any influence that you can use I am sure will be most beneficial. Feb. 4, 1925.
 
The meat of the collection consists of 61 letters from Senators, including copies of bills, that reveal the outlines of the debate and the extent to which:
  • John B. Kendrick of Wyoming: It has always been my contention that this country, being the leading nation of the world, owes it to itself and to the world at large to occupy a place at the conference table that is becoming of its standing as a nation.  In this connection I have felt that a Permanent Court of International Justice is at least a move in the right direction.
  • Woodbridge Ferris of Michigan: I favor joining the League of Nations, with reservations; or the World Court, or any other international association that will contribute to world peace.
  • Walter F. George of Georgia was more forthright: I am pleased to say that I shall support the World Court, the only measure now pending before Congress looking towards the settlement by peaceful means of International differences.
  • Carter Glass of Virginia: I doubt if you could be more in favor of our joining the world court than I; but the men in the United States Senate who favor in whole the isolation which Mr. Hughes advocates in part seem determined to black all progress in the direction of effective international cooperation.
  • George W. Norris of Nebraska: I did not, as you perhaps know, support the Versailles Treaty.  I thought it was wicked and dishonorable.  It provided for the selling out of our own friends, and would have been a breeder of war rather than any assistance towards peace.  I do not want to take any course that would by any possibility bring us into war over European possessions.  I have always favored arbitration instead of war to settle international difficulties.  During the War, and during the time we were negotiating a peace, I had my eyes opened to many things when to me demonstrated that even our own allies were not always acting in good faith with us.  I confess I became suspicious of their motives...
  • Hiram Johnson of California: This is to acknowledge the receipt of your letter stating that you favor participation by the United States in the World Court.
A great patron of the arts and progressive causes in New York City, Adolph Lewisohn (1849-1938) was one of those rare individuals who became fabulously wealthy, then stepped away to use his money for public good.  Born into a Jewish family in Hamburg, Germany, Lewisohn immigrated to New York at the age of 16 to assist in the family mercantile business.  Energetic and entrepreneurial, he made a fortune, branching out into investment banking and most famously, he began to invest in the extractive industries, becoming one of the nation’s most renowned Copper Kings. 

By the 1890s, Lewisohn’s fortunes had grown so immense that he decided he had enough for a lifetime, and stepped away to devote himself to support a wide variety of philanthropic causes.  A collector of paintings by members of the Barbizon School and Impressionists, he helped seed the painting collections at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and he was a major supporter of the Metropolitan Opera, education, and a host of progressive and Progressive-era social causes.  Late in life, he became a major supporter of Franklin Roosevelt during his rise to the governorship and eventually, the presidency of the United States.

A fine, focused collection at a critical moment in American foreign relations.  Handsomely bound in full brown leather with cover and spine title blind stamped in gilt.


Condition:  
Wear and abrasion at edges of back.
Sold: $960.00
Price includes
Buyer's Premium
      Ask a Question

All Images

ITEMS 1-12 of 374
SKIP TO PAGE:
Lot #2 - Sixth Plate Ruby Ambrotype of Union Pvt. with Rare Lemat Revolver
> Item Details

EST $600.00-$800.00

Lot #4 - Civil War Sixth Plate Ambrotype of an Armed Cavalry Officer
> Item Details

EST $500.00-$700.00

Lot #5 - Sixth Plate Ambrotype of Armed Federal Cavalryman
> Item Details

EST $500.00-$700.00

Lot #7 - Lieutenant Geo. L. Raymond, 1st & 12th Vermont, Civil War Archive
> Item Details

EST $1,500.00-$2,500.00

Lot #8 - Sixth Plate Tintype 5th NY Duryea's Zouaves, Plus Copy Print
> Item Details

EST $2,000.00-$3,000.00

Lot #9 - Sergeant David H. Stone, 9th New York Heavy Artillery, Killed by Friend with Pistol
> Item Details

EST $800.00-$1,000.00

Lot #10 - Outstanding Sixth Plate Ambrotype of Early Tennessee Cavalryman
> Item Details

EST $1,500.00-$2,000.00

Lot #11 - General James H. Wilson CDV
> Item Details

EST $600.00-$800.00

Lot #12 - Gettysburg Amputee, Captain Joseph W. Gelray, 2nd Massachusetts Volunteers, CDV
> Item Details

EST $500.00-$700.00

Lot #13 - Lieut. John Huidekoper, 150th Pennsylvania Volunteers, CDV
> Item Details

EST $500.00-$700.00

Lot #14 - A Collection of Generals & Presidents with Rare Custer View
> Item Details

EST $600.00-$800.00

ITEMS 1-12 of 374
SKIP TO PAGE: