Lansing, Robert


Uncommon 1917 ALS as Secetary of State, thanking a retired American diplomat for a gift of coffee


Autograph ID: 5661
Condition: Very good, small file hole at top left corner
Description: “(1864-1928) Lawyer and politician, served as Legal Advisor to the State Department at the outbreak of WW I, and then as Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson, 1915-20. An authority on international law, he was US Associate Counsel in the 1892-93 Bering Sea Arbitration, Counsel for the United States Bering Sea Claims Commission in 1896-97, the government's lawyer before the Alaskan Boundary Tribunal in 1903, Counsel for the North Atlantic Fisheries in the Arbitration at the Hague 1909-10, and agent of the United States in the 1912-14 American and British Arbitration. In 1914 he was appointed Counselor to the State Department by President Wilson. In 1916 Lansing hired a handful of men who became the State Department's first special agents in the new Bureau of Secret Intelligence. They initially observed the activities of the Central Powers in America, and later watched over interned German diplomats. The agents hired by Lansing eventually became the US Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). A few weeks before the formal end of WW I, Lansing informed the crumbling Austro-Hungarian Empire that since the Americans were now committed to the causes of the Czechs, Slovaks, and South Slavs, the Empire's proposal to satisfy the 10th of Wilson's Fourteen points by granting the nationalities autonomy within the Empire was no longer sufficient. Within 2 weeks, these new nations began to declare themselves independent and Austria-Hungary ceased to exist. Before US involvement in the war, he vigorously advocated in favor of the principles of freedom of the seas and the rights of neutral nations. He persuaded Denmark to sell its islands in the West Indies (now the U.S. Virgin Islands) to the United States to prevent possible German occupation of them. After US entry into WW I, he negotiated the Lansing-Ishii Agreement with Japan in 1917, in which the United States recognized Japan's special interests in China in return for Japan’s commitment to the Open Door Policy of equal trading rights for all countries there. He later advocated US participation in WW I, and was a member of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace at Paris in 1919. As Secretary, he arranged for the 1917 purchase of the Danish West Indies (Virgin Islands). He broke with Wilson over elevation of the League of Nations over the peace treaty. During Wilson's stroke and illness, Lansing called the Cabinet together for consultations on several occasions and was the first Cabinet member to suggest that Vice President Thomas R. Marshall assume the powers of the presidency. Edith Wilson, displeased by Lansing's independence, requested Lansing's resignation in 1920. In 1890, Lansing married Eleanor Foster, daughter of Secretary of State John W. Foster. Her older sister Edith was the mother of Eisenhower Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, CIA Director Allen W. Dulles, and Eleanor Lansing Dulles, an economist and high level policy analyst and advisor to the State Department.

Uncommon ALS as Secretary of State on 9 1/4 x 7 official letterhead, Washington, October 11 1917, to Major Heimke, thanking him for the "delicious coffee" sent to Lansing and his wife which they both enjoyed very much. He praises the gift coffee as "so much superior to that we can usually obtain."

Major William Heimke (1847-1931) USMA 1875. US Minister to Guatemala 1908-09 & El Salvador 1909-14, Chief of the Division of Latin American Affairs at the State Department 1914-15.”

Type: Letter

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