27th President. Typed letter signed (TLS) “Wm H. Taft”, April 13, 1916, The American Red Cross stationery, 8.5×10.5, to Cornelius Bliss Jr. in New York, in full:
In carrying out the extensive campaign which the Red Cross is now undertaking in the New York Metropolitan district, it is of the utmost importance that an Executive Committee of the representative men be created to assume general direction. We are extremely desirous that you become a member of this Committee, and it is my pleasure and privilege to invite you to accept membership.
I assume that this invitation will be acceptable to you, and unless informed to the contrary, will include your name in the membership list.
Mayor Mitchel has consented to become Honorary Chairman of the Committee, and Mr. Seward Prosser, President of the Bankers’ Trust Company, Chairman. Among those who have already accepted membership on this Committee are Mr. H.P. Davison, Mr. Robert W. De Forest, Mr. Morgan J. O’Brien, Mr. F.W. Underwood, and Mr. William B. Franklin.
Mr. H.J. Hill, Director of Membership Extension for the American Red Cross, has been designated as Executive Secretary of the Committee. All correspondence intended for the Committee should be addressed to him at 289 Fourth Avenue, New York City.
In very good condition, with pencil notation “Accepted 4/14/16” and a check mark next to Taft’s signature.
Interesting stationery listing President Woodrow Wilson as the President of the American Red Cross and listing Taft as the Chairman of the Central Committee.
Our first such letter on this extraordinary stationery.
Cornelius N. Bliss, Jr., whose father was a member of President McKinley’s Cabinet, was a philanthropist who was also active politically. He participated in the successful presidential campaign of Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. In July 1916, he was named treasurer of the Republican National Committee, and also served as president of the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor.
When the United States entered World War I in 1917, President Wilson named Bliss as one of the 13 members of his Red Cross War Council. The next year he became its acting chairman. Bliss also served on the National War Finance Committee which successfully raised a great deal of money for the Red Cross. In 1920 Herbert Hoover sought to tap his skills, experience and connections, and asked him to serve on New York City’s fund-raising committee for disaster aid to Europe.
Afterwards Bliss returned to business and philanthropy on a large scale, operating as a trustee, board member, or president of several organizations, including the Metropolitan Opera and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the Depression, he was one of six men named by New York City Mayor Walker to operate a relief fund, two others being J.P. Morgan and former governor Al Smith. During World War II, he was a chairman of the American Red Cross committee on war activities, and was for a time chairman of the Red Cross.