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Judson Harmon

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One’s individuality, properly corrected and trained, is his best and most effective possession.

Nobody ever succeeded as an imitation.”

Judson Harmon, 1846–1927.  Attorney General of the United States, 1895–1897; Governor of Ohio, 1909–1913. Autograph letter signed, Judson Harmon, one page, 5” x 8”, with integral leaf attached, on stationery of the Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., January 29, 1897.

This letter comes from a large collection of items assembled by a professor of penmanship at the State Normal School at Emporia, Kansas, now Emporia State University, in the 1890s.  He had his students write to prominent people throughout the United States and to American consular officials around the world to request handwritten letters for inclusion in a collection of letters devoted to the handwriting of prominent people.  The students requested a reminiscence, a word of advice, or a favorite saying.

Harmon responds here to a student’s request with interesting content regarding the inner self.  Writing to“the Students of the State Normal School, Emporia, Kansas,” he states, in full: 

I believe God has given to every one some faculty or combination of faculties by the ascertainment and development of which success will be measured.  To aid in this is the chief object of all education.

What I have written is only the English of the Greek “know thyself,” but paraphrasing sometimes gives a better hold on truths worn smooth from much handling.

One’s individuality, properly corrected and trained, is his best and most effective possession. Nobody ever succeeded as an imitation.

President Grover Cleveland appointed Harmon, a graduate of the Cincinnati Law School, as Attorney General in 1885 after appointing the sitting Attorney General, Richard Olney, to serve as Secretary of State.  Harmon completed the rest of Cleveland’s second term as President. 

As Attorney General, Harmon recommended that Congress strengthen the Sherman Antitrust Act.  He also issued an explicit statement of the American doctrine of absolute sovereignty, stating that “the rules, principles and precedents of international law impose no liability or obligation upon the United States.”

This letter is in fine condition.  Harmon has penned and signed in black.  The letter has two normal mailing folds, a few stray pencil marks that include two collector notations, and a bit of soiling and toning.  The attached integral leaf has mounting remnants on the back from where the letter was mounted in an album. 



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