Lot 28: James Buchanan Handwritten Signed Letter
9th January 2019
ALS, four pages on two adjoining sheets, 5.25 x 8.25, December 22, 1855. Letter to Hon. Peter D. Vroom, written while serving as minister to the United Kingdom. In part: "I have received a letter from Dr. W. W. Bidlack, now at Tangier, who informs me that he has written to the Russian Minister at Berlin soliciting the appointment of Assistant Surgeon in the Russian Army…I cannot interfere in favor of the appointment of Dr. Bidlack to an office in the Russian Army; but it is due to him to state my personal knowledge of his family and himself. His father, the Hon: Benjamin A. Bidlack, was a worthy and excellent man. He repeatedly represented his County (that of Luzerne) in the Legislature of Pennsylvania and afterwards represented his District in the Congress of the United States…In regards to Dr. Bidlack, he went out to Tangier as the youthful companion and friend of Mr. Collings, U.S. Consul General, who recently died there….He has undoubtedly received a regular education as a physician and surgeon… Every person here is anxiously expecting the answer of the Czar to the propositions made by Austria and accepted by France and England. If this should be favorable, I doubt whether the terms, whatever they may be, will prove satisfactory to the British people. They seem to be intent upon the recovery of the military prestige which they have lost during the two last campaigns, and to accomplish this object, have made vast naval preparations." In fine condition. With the Crimean War winding down, Buchanan kept close watch on Russia as 1855 came to a close. The initial terms set forth by Austria at this time were in fact accepted, and a peace conference began in Paris in February of 1856 to address the remaining issues. Buchanan's key concern—Russian naval power—was addressed in one of the most crucial points of the final treaty: establishing the Black Sea as neutral territory. This closed it to all warships and prohibited fortifications and armaments on its shores. Meanwhile, the agreement preserved the Ottoman Empire and forced Russia to surrender some of the territory it had gained. An extremely desirable letter on foreign policy from the president-to-be.
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