GARFIELD, James A. Autograph letter signed ("J a Garfield") as President, to Edwards Pierrepont (1817-1892), Washington, 4 May 1881. 2 pages, 8vo (6 13/16 x 4 3/8 in.), in ink on rectos only of two sheets, the first imprinted "Executive Mansion Washington," with original autograph envelope, imperceptible mat-burn, versos with traces of old mount.
GARFIELD IN OFFICE: "I AM ANXIOUS TO KNOW, EARLY IN MY TERM, WHETHER I AM TO BE A REGISTERING CLERK OR PRESIDENT"
A very rare autograph letter in which Garfield vigorously protests what he perceives as efforts to undermine his independent executive powers. Two months after taking office, Garfield writes to the former Attorney General, thanking him for some important information: "I have your kind note, warning me of the efforts of certain persons to defeat the N.Y. nomination." Responding to some suggestions concerning his presidency, he offers a candid commentary on presidential politics: "I know untiring and passionate are the efforts to break down the independence of the Executive and I thank you for your kind and valuable suggestions. I have no passion or resentment to gratify; but I am anxious to know, early in my term, whether I am to be a registering clerk or President."
Garfield was wounded by an assassin only four months into his presidency and died two months later. As a result, his autograph letters in office are very rare. In the last 25 years, only two other Garfield autograph letters signed in office, on White House stationery, have appeared at auction. The most recent was a 2-page letter to Wharton Barker, dated 3 June 1881 (from the Forbes Collection, sold Christie's, 27 March 2002, lot 120, $32,900).