The President’s Lawyer

When the United States House of Representatives delivered the Articles of Impeachment to the Unites States Senate, our President was forced to secure legal representation. As might be expected, he hired the best and the brightest to defend him.   After lengthy testimony and deliberation, the Senate found the President not guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors.   And Andrew Johnson went back to serving as President. . . . .  

As some of you know, I have been an avid collector and dealer of historic autograph and manuscript material and occasional rare books.  Over the last forty-five years, my personal collection has focused on original letters and documents of famous lawyers.  The President’s famed lawyer — William Maxwell Evarts (1818-1901) is one of them.

Evarts came from a long line of distinguished Bostonians. After his successful defense of President Andrew Johnson in the 1868 impeachment proceedings, Evarts was named Attorney General. He became President of the New York Bar Association and led the movement to defeat the corrupt Tweed Ring. He finished his career serving as United States Senator from New York.

In these last four decades, I have acquired at least 33 handwritten and signed letters of William Maxwell Evarts dating from 1856 to 1893 – touching on a variety of topics.  But as with all things, the adventure will soon end.  The Evarts collection and my (one of very few) complete collections of original letters and documents of Justices of the United States Supreme Court will be on the auction block at the end of this month.  It’s been quite a ride – this collecting business . . . .   

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