History In Ink®  Historical Autographs


Fred M. Vinson

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


The Chief Justice thanks Justice Clark for a "novel birthday gift"

that "will always be source of pleasure and pride to me"

Frederick Moore Vinson, 1890–1953.  Secretary of the Treasury; Chief Justice of the United States, 1946–1953. Typed Letter Signed, Fred M. Vinson, one page, 5¾" x 7¾", with integral leaf attached, on stationery of the Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D.C., January 27, 1950. 

Vinson writes to thank Justice Tom C. Clark for a birthday gift.  In full:  “I appreciate very much your bringing my record up to date.  The framed documents attesting to my activities since I left the House [of Representatives] will always be a source of pleasure and pride to me.  It was a novel birthday gift.  Thanks a lot." 

Vinson represented two Kentucky districts in the House of Representatives 1929–1938.  He later served as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 1937–1943; as Chief Judge of the United States Emergency Court of Appeals, 1942–1943; as the Director of the Office of Economic Stabilization, 1943–1945; as Federal Loan Administrator and as Director of the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion, both in 1945; and for 11 months as President Harry S. Trumanʼs Secretary of the Treasury, 1945–1946.  In the midst of vitriol among Associate Justices—public accusations by Justice Robert H. Jackson, who thought that he should receive the appointment, that Justice Hugo L. Black plotted against him, and with Black and Justice William O. Douglas reportedly ready to resign if Jackson were appointed—Truman appointed Vinson as the 15th Chief Justice to fill the vacancy that occurred by the unexpected death of Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone.

Vinson has signed in blue fountain pen with his typical ornate signature.  The letter has one normal fold, not affecting Vinson's signature; a paper clip impression at the left; and identifying and file notations in blank areas at the top.  It 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, and we are privileged to offer a number of items from his collection. 

Vinsonʼs letters are not particularly common, and internal letters from the Chief Justice to an Associate Justice are scarce, if not rare.  This would be an excellent addition to any Supreme Court or Chief Justices collection.


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