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James F. Byrnes


From the personal collection of Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark

Supreme Court card signed by Justice Byrnes, who served under 15 months on the Court

James Francis Byrnes, 1882–1972.  Associate Justice, United States Supreme Court, 1941–1942; United States Senator from South Carolina, 1931–1941; Secretary of State, 1945–1947; Governor of South Carolina, 1951–1955.  3½" x 4⅜" engraved Supreme Court card, signed James F. Byrnes.

This is an engraved Supreme Court card signed by Byrnes from the personal collection of Justice Tom C. Clark.

Although Byrnes spent his career in the federal and South Carolina governments, his time on the Supreme Court was very short.  He served just under 15 months, and his record as a Justice was sparse.  He was the last Justice who had passed the bar by reading law in a law office rather than attending law school.  He left the Court both in recognition that he was not suited to its cloistered, intellectual demands and out of a desire to be at the center of action in a nation at war.  He accepted President Franklin D. Rooseveltʼs appointment as Director of the Office of Economic Stabilization, a position that he held 1942–1943.  FDR then made him Director of the Office of War Mobilization, where he served from 1943 until President Harry S. Truman appointed him Secretary of State.

Byrnes has signed this card in blue-black fountain pen.  The card has a paperclip impression, with a light stain, at left that affects the "J" in Byrnesʼs signature.  There is also a light paprclip impression that goes through the engraving at the top of the card and minor soiling at the top margin.  Overall the piece is fine.

Provenance:  As noted, this card comes from Justice Clarkʼs personal collection.  Clark, who served on the Supreme Court from 1949 until 1967, collected the autographs of other Supreme Court Justices dating back into the 19th Century.  We are privileged to offer a number of items from the collection.  This one comes with the backing page, which bears the federal eagle watermark and Justice Byrnesʼs typed name, with which it was stored.  It is not laid down to the backing sheet.




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