Boutwell, George S.
1872 ALS as Treasury Secretary, letter of condolence
Autograph ID: 5514
Condition: Very good
Description: “(1818-1905) Secretary of the Treasury under President Grant, 20th Governor of Massachusetts, Mass. Senator and US Rep, 1st Commissioner of Internal Revenue under President Lincoln. An abolitionist, Boutwell was a founder of the Republican Party and a champion of African American citizenship and suffrage rights during Reconstruction. In Congress, he was instrumental in the drafting and passage of the 14th & 15th Amendments to the Constitution. As Secretary of Treasury, he made much needed reforms in the Treasury Department after the chaos of the Civil War and the impeachment trial of President Johnson. Secretary Boutwell controversially reduced the national debt by selling Treasury gold and using greenbacks to buy up Treasury bonds. This created a shortage of much needed cash for farmers in the Western states and territories. He and President Grant thwarted an attempt to corner the gold market in September 1869 by releasing $4M of gold into the economy. As Senator, he successfully sponsored the Civil Rights Act of 1875, signed into law by President Grant. In 1877, President Hayes appointed him Commissioner to codify the Revised Statutes of the United States and in 1880 to serve as US counsel before the French and American Claims Commission. As national industrial interests desired reconciliation with the South, his advocacy of equality for African Americans declined within the Republican Party. Boutwell fell out of favor with the party when he advocated in 1880 that Congress needed to take effective measures to destroy the Solid South. In 1900, he abandoned the Republican Party and supported Democrat William Jennings Bryan for President.
ALS while Treasury Secretary, 8 x 4 3/4, Washington, May 28, 1872, 1-1/2 pp (1st and 3rd pps of folded sheet), to W. G. Snethers, Elizabeth, New Jersey. Boutwell trusts that Snethers may have the strength to “bear the great affliction” that has come upon him and his house and notes his tribute of sympathy “is wholly inadequate but “is all that human beings can offer.””