Original manuscript draft of William H. Taft’s biographical entry for the American Encyclopedia of National Biography by pastor and magazine editor John Wesley Hill, 10 pages, 8.5 x 10.5, with seven pages bearing ink notations and emendations in Taft’s own hand (pages 7-9 are without Taft handwriting). Of the nearly 200 words penned by Taft, the majority can be found on pages one (34 words), three (44), four (28), and five (36). On page three, Taft writes vertically along the left margin: “While in the Philippines, Mr. Taft was twice offered by President Roosevelt appointment to the Supreme Bench of the United States but he reluctantly declined because he felt that he could not then give up the work in the Philippines without prejudice to the cause.” On page five, Taft emends a section relating to the Cuban occupation: “He announced a basis of compromise approved by President Roosevelt which President Palma declined to participate in. Then President Palma resigned and left the government headless. Having no other recourse, Mr. Taft announced a provisional government and [declared himself provisional governor].” The manuscript also bears numerous emendations by Hill, and four pages feature affixed newspaper clippings. Also included with the manuscript is a TLS signed “Wm. H. Taft,” one page, 7.5 x 10, personal letterhead, June 14, 1913, addressed to Hill, in full: I have yours of June 12th, enclosing a biographical sketch of myself which was sent to you for revision by the American Encyclopedia of National Biography. I have made some memoranda in it by way of correction, and return it herewith.” In overall very good to fine condition, with creasing to the letter, and binding holes, creasing, and some edge loss to the biographical sketch.
John W. Hill was the chancellor of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee from 1916-1936, and prior to that, a pastor at the Metropolitan Temple Methodist and Episcopal Church in New York City. Both Hill and Taft were originally from Ohio, and their personal friendship spanned decades. Taft had departed the White House only three months prior, and he soon accepted the position of Kent Professor of Law and Legal History at Yale Law School, arriving in New Haven on April 1, 1913. Given that was it was too late in the semester to teach an academic course, Taft instead prepared eight lectures on ‘Questions of Modern Government,’ which he delivered in May.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.