'Trials must come because of some great wickedness' - Eisenhower letters are to sell

Later today (May 20) in New York, Sotheby's is selling another section of the grand James S Copley collection of books and manuscripts. In this case, the highlights concern two important political figures from US history - though from very different times.

The first is an exceptional collection of papers relating to explorer and first Republican Party candidate John C Fremont, comprising a fine archive of manuscript materials, books, pamphlets, campaign memorabilia and images.

Fremont carried out a series of survey expeditions in the western territories in 1833-1849 which played a large part in the establishment of California. (Indeed he spent his later years involved with a gold mine in the state.)

He ran for President in 1856 as the first candidate of the new Republican Party (losing to Buchanan). In 1861 he was in London buying arms for the north. He was appointed major general in the Department of the West, based in St. Louis.

Fremont autograph sigend letter collection
The John C Fremont letter collection

There he proclaimed martial law in Missouri, confiscating property and freeing the slaves, but his order was reversed by Lincoln who wished to tread lightly on a border state. Later he ran for the Presidential nomination in 1864, only to quit the campaign and support Lincoln.

After the war he pursued his own business interests, and was appointed governor of the Arizona territory.

Over_200_signed documents, mostly letters, referring to these various stages of Lincoln's life and a warm correspondence with his wife, are available, alongside a selection of materials associated with his Presidential run, and books by him and his wife are available. The whole lot is expected to achieve $100,000-150,000.

The other great highlight of the sale is a collection of Dwight Eisenhower's letters. We reported recently on the sale of Eisenhower's letters to his brother at Heritage, which brought $56,800. This is a selection of autograph letters to another close figure in his life, his wife Mamie Doud Eisenhower.

There are 114 autograph and three typed letters signed, all from 1940-52, except three from 1917. One from March 1944 includes:

"I think that all these trials and tribulations must come upon the world because of some great wickedness; yet one would feel that man's mere intelligence, to say nothing of his spiritual perceptions, would find some way of eliminating war.

"But man has been trying to do so for many hundreds of years, and his failure just adds more reason for pessimism when a man gets really low!"

The collection is expected to achieve $400,000-600,000 - a marked increase on the comparable collection sold at Heritage, so the results of the sale will be intriguing. Perhaps the earlier sold collection will prove to be something of a bargain for such an exceptional investment.

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