Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘last’ handwritten speech on sale by US collector

Updated on Dec 06, 2019 06:06 AM IST

It’s a transcript of a speech he delivered at a prayer meeting on January 22, 1948, his first after breaking his famous fast to forge Hindu-Muslim unity in the aftermath of the partition and the riots that had followed on either side of the border. Gandhi was assassinated 8 days later.

Raab Collection, the seller is a well recognized entity and has sold Gandhi documents earlier.(HT FILE PHOTO.)
Raab Collection, the seller is a well recognized entity and has sold Gandhi documents earlier.(HT FILE PHOTO.)
Hindustan Times, Washington | ByYashwant Raj

A US collector and seller of historical documents has announced the sale of what could be the last publicly available piece of writing by Mahatma Gandhi.

It’s a transcript of a speech he delivered at a prayer meeting on January 22, 1948, his first after breaking his famous fast to forge Hindu-Muslim unity in the aftermath of the partition and the riots that had followed on either side of the border.

Gandhi was assassinated 8 days later.

Raab Collection, the seller who is a well recognized entity and has sold Gandhi documents before, said in the announcement made on Thursday, “Our research cannot find any example in Gandhi’s hand, whether letter, manuscript, or document, dated after this one having reached the public market. This may well be the last thing Gandhi ever wrote.”

It’s going for $110,000.

The note was described as a manuscript of his January 22 speech with edits by him made before its publication. It’s not, however, the whole speech, but a fragment of it and is written on “scrap paper”.

It is undated but Raab Collection said if it is from after January 22, when the speech was delivered, “so in the last 8 days of his life”.

In the manuscript, as summarized by the collector Gandhi wrote that a friend had written to him that although “Pandit Nehru and other ministers and the officials might lodge some refugees in their houses, that would not even touch the fringe of the refugee problem”.

The person addressed by Gandhi is said to have agreed that the ministers and the officials together could not house more than a few thousands at the most.

The collection said: “The virtue of the offer consisted not in the ‘number so to be accommodated, but in the fact that the example of the leaders doing the act was proving infectious’. All civilized people, Gandhi went on to say, would appreciate and value such acts of leaders of men.”

A response was awaited from Raab Collection to a question about where the manuscript was acquired. Whether in the United States, India or somewhere else. Hindustan Times has also sought details of the authentication process used by the seller for the Gandhi document.

Among other documents on sale by the Raab are, according to its website, President George Washington’s first address to the US Senate, from October 31, 1791. It’s priced at $225,000.

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