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Harold H. Burton

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


Burton thanks Justice Tom C. Clark for a book

Harold Hitz Burton, 1888-1964. Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States, 1945-1958.  Autograph Letter Signed, Harold H. Burton, one page, 5¾” x 7¾”, with integral leaf attached, on engraved stationery of the Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D.C., September 7, 1949.  With holograph notation by Justice Tom C. Clark.

Burton thanks Justice Clark,for a copy of the opinions of the United States Attorneys General before and including Clarkʼs time as President Harry S. Truman’#700;s Attorney General.  He writes, in full:  “It was thoughtful of you to send me an autographed copy of the Opinions of the Attorneys General — 1940–1948.  I am glad to have it and thank you for it.”

An Ohioan, Burton served as mayor of Cleveland and served four years in the United States Senate, where he became well acquainted with Truman and served on the famous “Truman Committee,” the World War II committee to investigate the national defense program.  As President, seeking bipartisanship, Truman made the Republican Burton his first appointment to the Supreme Court in September 1945.  Burton was unanimously confirmed the day that Truman nominated him without either a hearing or debate.  He took his seat on the Supreme Court the next day and served until 1958. 

Later, when Justice Frank Murphy died and another Supreme Court vacancy occurred, Truman surprised reporters at his press conference on July 28, 1949, when he announced, in response to a reporter’s question, that he intended to nominate Clark.  He formally did so on August 2, and the Senate confirmed him as an Associate Justice on August 18.

This is an excellent example of Justice Burton’s holograph.  He has written and signed the letter in blue-black fountain pen.  Justice Clark has added his own handwritten notation, “file,” in green fountain pen in a blank area to the right of the letterhead.

The letter has one normal horizontal fold that affects a bit of text but does not affect Burtonʼs signature.  There is a paper clip  impression in a blank area at the upper left margin, and a note in another hand identifying Justice Burton at the top right margin.  The letter is in fine condition.

Provenance:  This letter comes from the personal collection of Justice Tom C. Clark, who served on the Supreme Court from 1949 until 1967.  Justice Clark collected the autographs of Supreme Court Justices dating back into the 19th Century.  We are privileged to offer a number of items from this collection.




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