GROVER CLEVELAND WRITES A LONG LETTER TO PAUL MORTON, “A GOLD DEMOCRAT’ — THE SON OF HIS SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE AND THE COUSIN OF VICE PRESIDENT, LEVI P. MORTON
CLEVELAND, GROVER (1837-1908) 22nd and 24th President of the United States. Intriguing Autograph Letter Signed, “Grover Cleveland.” Four very full pages, octavo. Minor mounting trace on 4th page, with miniscule paper loss at center fold, else very fine condition. ‘Tamworth, N.H.’, [Site of his summer home] October 1, 1905. To Paul Morton, Princeton, NJ, [the son of J. Sterling Morton, his Secretary of Agriculture in Grover Cleveland’s second administration, and cousin of Levi P. Morton, the Vice President during the presidency of Benjamin Harrison]. In a very much above average letter, Cleveland writes:
“My dear Mr. Morton, I telegraph you yesterday that we feel obliged to give up the Nebraska trip. After I had sent the dispatch I received you last telegram urging our acceptance of your invitation.
Your dispatch sent to Buzzards Bay, fixing the date of the unveiling, arrived there just before I started for this place. In the meantime not hearing from you in reply to my letter, and supposing that the ceremonies at Nebraska City would be fixed for a late day in October, I had directed Mr. Parker to call a meeting of the trustees for the 11th inst. & then considerations made it absolutely necessary for me to postpone a reply to your dispatch, until I reached here and had an opportunity to look over the situation. When I arrived here day before yesterday morning, I found awaiting me your letter of Sept. 21st in which you state that you then expected the unveiling to take place ‘early in November if not late in October’ Of course before reading this I had learned that the dates had been fixed for the 14th, but up to the receipt of the Buzzards Bay dispatch I had supposed the statement in your letter as to the dates represented the situation.
Relying upon this a meeting of our Equitable Stock trustees has been called for the 11th. This meeting I consider of very great importance it has been called full late, there ought to be a number of days devoted to the businesses to be transacted, and it should in event be postponed. I find too that Mrs. Cleveland has accepted an invitation for both of us, which it seems impossible to recall, and which would necessarily clash with the Nebraska trip as planned. Besides all this I am considerably perplexed with some matters or a personal nature which will demand work and attention from immediately on my return to Princeton.
In all the circumstance it seemed utterly impossible for me to leave home on the 12th for an absence of five days or even a less a period – to say nothing of the lack of opportunity to prepare today even a few words that would do Justice to you father’s career of public service.
We leave here Tuesday morning the 3rd instant and expect to arrive at Princeton Wednesday morning, the 4th. I believe you expect to send a statement to each of the Equitable filing holders. Can the trustees send something in the same enclosure with their same expenses? Yours very sincerely, Grover Cleveland.”
The recipient of this letter was a “Gold Democrat”, prior to his switching to the Republican Party. [Gold Democrats were conservative Democrats who strongly opposed the takeover of the Democratic Party in the 1896 U.S. presidential election and were to oppose the regular Democratic Party nominee: William Jennings Bryan. Most members were admirers of Grover Cleveland.] Morton’s merits in business led to his appointment as Secretary of the Navy by President Theodore Roosevelt. He assumed the post in June 1904, replacing outgoing Secretary William H. Moody. A scandal ensued in February 1905 when the Interstate Commerce Commission asked the Justice Department to investigate charges that Morton acted illegally while head of the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company. Though the charges never led to a prosecution, Morton resigned quietly on July 1, 1905. He then saved face by becoming vice chairman of the Moody Commission which reorganized the Navy in 1909. Morton died unexpectedly on January 19, 1911, at the age of 53.
A very much ‘above average’ content Cleveland letter, from the only person [to date] to have split terms as President.