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Lot #91
William McKinley

“THIS IS CONFIDENTIAL”: MCKINLEY keeps an ailing old comrade out of the Spanish-American War

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“THIS IS CONFIDENTIAL”: MCKINLEY keeps an ailing old comrade out of the Spanish-American War

TLS, one page, 5.25 x 6.75, Executive Mansion letterhead, July 4, 1898. McKinley writes a letter headed “Confidential” to General J. L. Botsford in Youngstown, Ohio. In full: “I telegraphed you as I did the other day because I did not believe that you ought under any circumstances to go into the field and take an active command. Your friends must have something to say about that which may so seriously affect your health and welfare. It is my purpose now to give you the best staff position I can, which will be an Inspector General with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and then I can assign you to duty here. This is confidential.” Three months after writing this letter, on October 7, the New York Times reported that “Gen. James L. Botsford, a retired iron manufacturer, died yesterday at Youngstown, Ohio, aged sixty-six years. He was a schoolmate of President McKinley and his comrade in the Twenty-third Ohio Infantry. He was a prominent member of the Loyal Legion. At the outbreak of the Spanish war, he was appointed Inspector General of Volunteers, but was compelled to give up his post on account of ill-health.” Botsford, who was then appointed Quartermaster U. S. Volunteers, had just been granted a “leave of absence for one month on account of sickness” at the time of his death. Also included is an unsigned telegram from McKinley to Botsford, dated July 1: “Make no plans until you hear from me. You ought not to go to the field. A staff appointment with assignment here is all you should undertake.” Accompanied by the original mailing envelope. In fine, clean condition. Auction LOA John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and R&R COA.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title:
  • Dates: #333 - Ended May 14, 2008