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605334

Fred M. Vinson

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Frederick Moore Vinson, 1890-1953.  Secretary of the Treasury; Chief Justice of the United States, 1946-1953. Scarce Typed Letter Signed, Fred M. Vinson, one page, 5¾” x 7¾”, with integral leaf attached, April 29, 1949, on stationery of the Supreme Court of the United States, Chambers of the Chief Justice, Washington, D.C.  With original envelope.

Vinson sends his autograph on the letter and his regrets that he has no photographs available for distribution.  In full:  “I regret very much, indeed, that I do not have any photographs available for distribution, but am pleased to send you this letter for incorporation in your collection of autographs.”

Vinsons autographic material is scarce, and he is difficult to find in letters.  If it were not for the cache of early Vinson law practice checks that came on the market a few years ago, he would be even more scarce in all forms.

Vinson graduated from law school in 1911, when he was only 21 years old, and practiced law in Louisa, Kentucky.

A Democrat, Vinson served more than six terms in Congress before resigning in 1938 to accept appointment by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  In 1942, Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone designated Vinson to serve also as chief judge of the United States Emergency Court of Appeals.  He served in both capacities until May 1943.

At that point Vinson’s abilities took him into wartime work in the Roosevelt administration.  He served first as director of the Office of Economic Stabilization.  In March 1945, FDR appointed him Federal Loan Administrator.  He held that job for less than a month before becoming director of War Mobilization and Reconversion.

Less than four months later, on July 22, 1945, after Roosevelt’s death, President Harry S. Truman appointed Vinson Secretary of the Treasury in place of Henry Morgenthau, Jr.  Then, following the death of Chief Justice Stone, Truman appointed him Chief Justice of the United States.  He was commissioned on June 21, 1946, and sworn in three days later.

As Chief Justice, Vinson avoided broad constitutional pronouncements and generally followed earlier decisions.  Cases decided under his tenure as Chief Justice eroded the “separate but equal” doctrine of racial separation that the Supreme Court announced in Plessy v. Ferguson, but he sought to avoid confronting the issue directly in Brown v. Board of Education.  The Court had not yet decided Brown when Vinson died from a heart attack on September 8, 1953.  Vinson’s successor, Earl Warren, led a unanimous Court to strike down racial segregation in the public schools.

The letter is toned from previous storage with the envelope and has one horizontal mailing fold, well away from the signature, and scattered small stains that do not particularly detract.  Vinson has boldly signed with a 2¾” blue fountain pen signature.  The letter is in very good condition, and the envelope, which is considerably stained, is in fair to good condition.

Unframed.

 

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