Learning About America's Presidents "Between the Lines"
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It's fascinating to learn more about the quirks and personality traits of our American
presidents. Every letter that they send, every decision that they make, shows a bit
about their personalities. And Herbert Hoover's "One per Annum" autographed letter is
certainly no exception.
As part of the "Between the Lines" program through the Shapell Manuscript Foundation,
the Hoover letter offers insight into a quirk that the 31st President possessed. He loved to
write only typewritten letters – and shied away from handwritten ones at all costs.
As he explained in the document with the Shapell Manuscript Foundation, "I am not in
favor of holograph letters – I would not get through 1/10th of 1% of my mail that way –
moreover the typewriter spells better and leaves a record by which you can prove what
you did not say, and that is part of one's daily occupation. But the typewriter is a poor
method of conveying emotion. Therefore, this note is intended to convey more than usual
wishes of a happy and prosperous new year to you and yours."
Penned in 1937, well after the end of Hoover's time in office, the letter is a rare glimpse
of handwriting from the President. During his entire time as president, he wrote no more
than half a dozen handwritten letters. He acknowledged at one point that he wrote "one
autograph letter per annum."
Hoover explained that he favored type-written correspondences both because it saved
time, but also that he didn't want his letters sold. As he wrote to a young autograph
collector well after he finished as President, most men "don't like such trafficking in their
Certainly an interesting insight into one of America's great presidents.