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Benjamin N. Cardozo

Cardozo returns newspaper accounts of the Lincoln assassination

"moving memorials of one of the great moments in our national life"

Benjamin Nathan Cardozo, 18701938.  Associate Justice, United States Supreme Court, 19321938.  Autograph Letter Signed, Benjamin N. Cardozo, three pages, with integral leaf attached, 5¼" x 6¾", on plain stationery, [New York, New York], February 17, 1929. 

Cardozo writes to thank Emanuel Hertz, a noted authority on Abraham Lincoln, for newspaper articles relating to the Lincoln assassination.  Returning the clippings (not included) to Hertz for preservation, he writes, in full:  “I have read with great interest the newspaper accounts of the death of Lincoln which you sent me so thoughtfully and generously.  /  Thinking the matter over, I have felt that I ought not to retain these rare memorials and thereby break up your collection of Lincoln documents.  /  I am, therefore, sending them back to you under separate cover, feeling that you will be able to preserve them better for those who are to follow us.  I am none the less appreciative of your friendly thought of me and of the privilege that you have given me of handling and reading these moving memorials of one of the great moments in our national life.  /  Faithfully yours . . ."

By the time of his death, Hertz (1870–1940) had assembled the largest private collection of material relating to Lincoln.  The New York Times reported that his collection included some 4,000 previously unknown items.  Hertz, a lawyer, was a prolific writer:  He published several books and pamphlets on various aspects of Lincolnʼs life, including Abraham Lincoln: His Political Vision (1926); The Many Sided Lincoln: What Would He Do Were He Here Today? (1926); The Wizardry of Lincolnʼs Political Appointments and Party Management (1927); Abraham Lincoln: The Tribute of the Synagogue (1927); The Lincoln Collection (1927); Abraham Lincoln: More Than A Country Lawyer (1928); Abraham Lincoln: His Inventive Mind (1930); The Childrenʼs Lincoln (1930); Lincolnʼs Spells of Gloom (1930); Abraham Lincoln: A New Portrait (1931); and Hidden Lincoln (1938).

Hertz was born in Austria and emigrated with his parents to the United States in 1884.  He earned his law degree from Columbia University in 1895 and later studied three years at the Jewish Theological Seminary.  The brother of Chief Rabbi Joseph Herman Hertz of England, he served as the secretary of the 8th Quinquennial Convention of Bʼnai Bʼrith and helped to organize the Jewish community and erect the first synagogue building in Manhattanʼs Washington Heights neighborhood.  He donated some 20,000 books to Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, 20,000 to Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and 8,000 to Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. He was also a substantial benefactor of the Library of Congress.

Cardozo was the second Jewish member of the United States Supreme Court.  In 1932, President Herbert Hoover appointed Cardozo, then Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, the stateʼs highest court, to fill the vacancy resulting from the resignation of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.  Cardozo served on the Supreme Court some six years until his death in 1938.  

This is a beautiful letter.  Cardozo has penned and signed it in black fountain pen on Craneʼs watermarked stationery.  He has written the second page vertically on the front of the integral leaf and the third page horizontally on the back of the front leaf.  The letter is bright and clean, with only a faint paper clip impression and a couple of tiny paperclip stains in the blank upper left margin of the first page and minor mounting traces and a small stain on the back of the integral leaf.  Because the third page is written horizontally, the mailing fold goes through one letter of Cardozoʼs signature, which is 3" long.  Overall the letter is in fine condition but close to very fine.

Cardozo's autograph material is scarce, and this would be a fine addition to any Supreme Court or legal collection. 




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