|Saddam greeting card expressing thanks to Bush senior among signed documents in history display
Joseph Stalin's signature was bold and forceful, Harry Truman's was unaffected and readily legible, while Winston Churchill's was formal and unflappable.
(Pictured, 1989 greeting card by the then Iraqi president Saddam Hussein to US President George H. W. Bush).
The autographs of World War II's Big Three leaders – on a program to a string orchestra concert during a break from their conference in Potsdam – are on display at the US National Archives in Washington a new exhibition that aims to look at history through penmanship, AFP reports.
Among the exhibits is a 1989 greeting card signed by the then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein thanking new US president George H. W. Bush for his “kind greetings.’’ Two years later, the United States would attack Iraq after Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. Saddam was later hanged.
The exhibition, which opens Friday and runs until January 2015, taps into the National Archives' collections to show more than 100 signatures of figures as diverse as King of Pop Michael Jackson and the first US president George Washington.
The National Archives has also put out the marriage license of Adolf Hitler signed on April 29, 1945 as he and Eva Braun eloped one day before they committed suicide.
The license, seized by US troops, testifies that Hitler and his longtime girlfriend were “of pure Aryan descent'' and asks Braun, “Are you willing to take Our Fuehrer Adolf Hitler as your husband?''
Hitler signs with a scrunched scribble and Braun begins to write “Eva B-'' before crossing out the “B'' of her maiden name and writing Eva Hitler. The dictator's confidants Joseph Goebbels and Martin Bormann signed as witnesses.
“Signatures tell us a lot about their owners and the circumstances under which they were made,'' said David Ferriero, archivist of the United States.
The exhibition's signatures show Civil War president Abraham Lincoln to be ''decisive,'' anti-slavery activist Harriet Tubman as “determined'' and Hollywood legend Katharine Hepburn as “fearless,'' he said.
Another display shows the young Richard Nixon's application to be an FBI agent. The fresh law school graduate never heard back – apparently, he was told years later, due to budget cuts in Washington – and he returned to California, soon embarking on a political career that would lead him to the White House.
Jennifer Johnson, the exhibition's curator, said that the one historical figure she felt obliged to include was the US revolutionary John Hancock, whose signature is on display in a document as governor of Massachusetts.
Hancock's conspicuously large signature on the 1776 Declaration of Independence from Britain – on permanent display elsewhere at the National Archives in central Washington – was so famous that his name has become synonymous with an autograph in American English.
Shifting to the contemporary era, the exhibition demonstrates an autopen. Barack Obama has become the first president to use an autopen, authorizing his signature remotely on urgent legislation when he is away from Washington, triggering protests by lawmakers from the rival Republican Party.