Johnson, Hiram W.


1927 TLS as California GOP US Senator, was Theodore Roosevelt’s 1912 Progressive Party VP running mate


Type: Letter
Description: (1866-1945) Leading California progressive (and later isolationist) politician, 23rd Governor 1911-17, US Senator 1917-45.

California lawyer from 1888, to San Francisco 1902. An assistant district attorney, became active in reform politics, taking up an anti-corruption mantle. Won 1910 gubernatorial election as a member of the Lincoln-Roosevelt League, liberal Republican movement running on an anti-Southern Pacific Railroad platform. A populist, implemented many important reforms, inc. popular election of US Senators, which stripped away sole state legislature vote for US Senators. He also pushed for women suffrage and ability of candidates to register in more than one political party, a reform he believed would cripple the influence of what he viewed as a monolithic political establishment. In 1911, Johnson and the Progressives added initiative, referendum, and recall to state government, giving California a degree of direct democracy unmatched by any other state.

Johnson was a founder of the Progressive Party in 1912, and that year was it’s VP candidate with former President Theodore Roosevelt; his selection helped Roosevelt carry California by 0.2% of the votes. The Progressives finished ahead of incumbent Republican President Wm. H. Taft but behind Democrat Woodrow Wilson. Re-elected governor 1914, in 1916 successfully ran for the Senate. Following Roosevelt’s death in Jan. 1919, Johnson was regarded as the natural leader of the Progressive Party. In 1920, however, he ran for President as a Republican, defeated for the nomination by Warren Harding. He received 10 votes for the nomination against Calvin Coolidge in 1924.

Re-elected to the Senate with 94.5% of the popular vote in 1934, Johnson supported FDR’s New Deal, frequently aiding Democrats and even backing FDR in the 1932 & 1936 presidential elections,  but never switched party affiliation.  He became disenchanted with Roosevelt after the unsuccessful “Court packing” attempt to increase the size of the Supreme Court. A staunch isolationist (only Senator to vote against the League of Nations and the United Nations), he was much less supportive of FDR on foreign policy.

TLS on 10 ½ x 8 US Senate Committee on Immigration (as Chairman) letterhead, Washington, March 21 1927, to a Massachusetts collctor, glad to autograph a photograph he sent, appreciates his “kind, complimentary note”

Condition: Very Good, slight creasing at right side, small piece mounted on back yields very slight see-thru.

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