Lot 67: ALS signed "W. G. H.," one page both sides, 8 x 11, United States Senate letterhead, February 1, . Letter to James Phillips, the husband of Harding's mistress, Carrie Fulton Phillips, in full: "Your letter received. I was quite sincere in asking you and Isabelle down to Washington and would have been glad to see you, but I am frank to say, in second, sober thought, that I think it well, perhaps, that you did not come. Though I uttered the invitation in Carrie's hearing, and it was quite natural, and I think she thought nothing of it then, if you had come and Mrs. H had shown any courtesies (as I hoped she might) there might have been a storm from Carrie's quarters. Moreover, Mrs. H. was not in shape to show the courtesies I had hoped for. Yet I should be delighted to see you and yours, and shall still hope for the time when that pleasure may be mine. It appears that 'my plate is broken' with Carrie. I am in contempt, but just the same I would gladly show her every consideration, and still hope for the day when agreeable relations all around can be reasonably be [sic] restored. I think it possibly. [sic] It would have been done ere this if 'undiplomatic' things had not been said. Give my very best to Isabelle and tell her if she comes this way to be sure to let me know. I should be proud to show her attention. She is an admirable and adorable young woman. Of course if you come you will let me know. I'll gladly welcome you." Intersecting folds, binding dings to left edge, an ink blot to the salutation, and some staining to the reverse, otherwise fine condition.James Phillips was a successful storeowner and member of the Marion social elite, along with Warren G. Harding and his wife Florence, who became very close with Phillips's wife Carrie almost immediately. Following the loss of the Phillips' two-year-old son, a grieving Carrie turned to Warren for consolation, sparking an on-again, off-again affair that would last throughout Harding's terms as senator. When Carrie threatened to expose the details of their affair during his 1920 campaign for the presidency, the Republican Party wilted to her demands—a fully financed tour of Asia and the Pacific Islands, and an annual stipend for the remainder of her life. With both betrayed spouses aware of the affair, this letter shows Harding, "in second, sober thought," withdrawing a recent invitation to the Phillips family, and deflecting blame on Florence with the suggestion that she "was not in the shape" for such courtesy. An odd and revealing letter from a man whose unburied scandals would later rock his brief presidential legacy.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 467
Wednesday, 13th January 2016
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