Letter signed by William E. Dodge and John Taylor Johnston - AutographInv# AU1348
Letter all in Dodge's handwriting and signed by him and John T. Johnston.
William Earl Dodge Sr. (September 4, 1805 – February 9, 1883) was a New York businessman, referred to as one of the "Merchant Princes" of Wall Street in the years leading up to the American Civil War. Dodge saw slavery as an evil to be peaceably removed, but not to be interfered with where it existed. He was a Native American rights activist and served as the president of the National Temperance Society from 1865 to 1883. Dodge represented New York's 8th congressional district in the United States Congress for a portion of the 39th United States Congress in 1866-1867 and was a founding member of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA).
John Taylor Johnston (April 8, 1820 – March 24, 1893) was an American businessman and patron of the arts. He served as President of the Central Railroad of New Jersey and was one of the founders of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. After being admitted to the bar in 1843, Johnston practiced law until 1848, when he was named president of the Somerville and Easton Railroad (later the Central Railroad of New Jersey), a position he would retain until 1877. He was the driving force behind the company's acquisition of the Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad, and also endeavored to develop the suburbs of central New Jersey through which his railroads passed. According to his obituary, "[h]is expenditures to secure low grades and good alignment to avoid grade crossings were far in advance of the railroad science of his time and were ridiculed by some of his competitors." Johnston was the founding president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1870. Together with William Tilden Blodgett, he financed the initial "1871 purchase" of 174 paintings for the museum. He held this position until ill health forced him to retire in 1889, at which point he was succeeded by Henry Gurdon Marquand and the Museum's Trustees voted him Honorary President for Life. He was also a patron to living American artists and was an avid collector, including many French academic paintings. His personal art collection in his Fifth Avenue mansion, which included works by Frederic Edwin Church, Thomas Cole, Asher Brown Durand, John Frederick Kensett, and Winslow Homer. In addition to his patronage of the arts, Johnston served as President of the Governing Board of the University of the City of New York, and as a member of the boards of the Presbyterian Hospital, the Woman's Hospital of New York, and the Saint Andrew's Society. He was also a member of the Century Association, and a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History and the National Academy of Design.