Books Authored and Signed by American Presidents

By David Thoreau

In recent years there has been a growing audience for books authored and signed by American Presidents. This article explores some of the most common books authored and signed by modern American presidents.

One of the earliest American presidents to author a book was Thomas Jefferson and his only full-length book known as Notes on the State of Virginia. Originally written in 1782 and published anonymously in Paris, Notes on the State of Virginia contains Jefferson's political philosophy interspersed with geographic descriptions of the State of Virginia. Signed copies bearing Thomas Jefferson's autograph are known to exist but are exquisitely rare.

More recently, Calvin Coolidge gained notoriety as a syndicated newspaper columnist after his career in politics. His autobiography was published in 1928 and copies bearing the inscription "Cordially Calvin Coolidge" in blue ink occasionally appear on the autograph marketplace.

Beginning in 1922, Coolidge's successor, Herbert Hoover, published five books, including his popular three-volume Memoirs between 1951 and 1952. Memoirs describes his presidency, from 1929 through 1933. Unlike Hoover's handwritten letters, which are very rare, books authored and signed by Herbert Hoover are quite common.

John Kennedy wrote several books that included Why England Slept, Profiles in Courage, and The Strategy of Peace. Published in 1956, Profiles in Courage became a best-seller and provided Kennedy the distinction as the only American president to win a Pulitzer Prize. Signed copies of Kennedy's books are highly valued.

Books that have been written by Lyndon Baines Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama describe their philosophy, background, and ascent in politics. Many of their books are readily available as signed copies.

Jimmy Carter has several distinctions in the literary world. Carter holds the record for the most number of books authored by a United States president (twenty-seven). Carter was also the first American president to write a book of poetry (Always a Reckoning, and Other Poems, 1995) and the first American president to write a novel (The Hornet's Nest, 2002). Carter signed many trade editions of his books as well as a large number of limited editions.

Collectors avidly seek books authored and signed by American presidents. An autographed book by a United States president provides a personal touch and validation of their written testimonial.

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