FIRESTONE, HARVEY

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FIRESTONE, HARVEY - Firestone’s Efforts “to make the United States independent in obtaining its rubber supply”
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FIRESTONE, HARVEY - Firestone’s Efforts “to make the United States independent in obtaining its rubber supply”

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FIRESTONE, HARVEY. (1868-1938). American businessman and founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. TLS. (“H.S. Firestone”). 1p. 4to. N.p., December 19, 1925. Written on his personal stationery to Miss C.E. Mason, proprietor of Tarrytown’s Suburban School for Girls and a leader in the Pan American movement.

 

It was very thoughtful of you to send me congratulations on my effort to make the United States independent in obtaining its rubber supply. I sent you one of the Firestone Company Twenty-fifth Anniversary books showing the development of the Company. Your picture appeared in this book and I thought you might be interested in it. Wishing you a very happy holiday season…”

 

In 1900, Firestone founded the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio, to supply rubber tires to wagons and buggies. A competitor of Goodyear and BF Goodrich, Firestone saw the potential in the burgeoning automobile market, and worked closely with automotive pioneer Henry Ford, who chose Firestone’s tires for his Model T. Together they opened new factories and made innovations in mass production.

 

Our letter pertains to Firestone’s ongoing efforts to wrest control of the supply of rubber from European colonial powers. At the start of World War I, Firestone, Ford and Thomas Edison began to search for a species of rubber tree that could grow in the United States. Their ongoing research was eventually handed over to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover also worked with private industry to find a solution to America’s heavy reliance on the foreign natural resource, and in 1923, with Hoover’s support, Firestone sent his experts to Liberia to survey its potential. In 1926, having been granted a 99-year lease by Liberia in exchange for an enormous loan to help finance its government, Firestone formed the Firestone Natural Rubber Company, headquartered in Indianapolis but operating the world’s largest rubber plantations in the African republic.

 

The recipient of our letter was the proprietor of Miss Mason’s Suburban School for Girls in Tarrytown, New York, housed in a magnificent mansion known as The Castle, which Mason purchased in 1895. Coincidentally, Hoover would later serve on the school’s advisory council. The school ceased operations during the depression and The Castle was razed in 1944. Mason was also president of the Pan AmericanRound Table, part of the Pan-American Conferences that were devoted to trade in the Americas. At the Second Pan American Commercial Conference, held in Washington in 1919, Mason stated, “The organization which I have the honor to represent has three objects (1) to promote acquaintance among women of the American countries ; (2) to develop and conserve mutual knowledge, understanding and true friendship among the women of the American countries, and (3) to promote all good movements which shall lead to a higher civilization, especially those which affect the welfare of the women and children of the American countries,” (Pan American Commerce Past Present Future from the Pan American Viewpoint, Barrett).

 

Folded into thirds with pencil notations in a large hand in the lower margin and verso recording the recipient’s reply. Otherwise, normal wear and in very good condition. Uncommon.

 

Item #10376

 


This autograph will be auctioned live on May 23, 2018. For more information and to place your bid click the "BID NOW!" button above.
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