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    [Frank James]. Group of Seven John Finis Philips Typed Letters Signed to Frank James spanning the years 1885 through 1899. John F. Philips (1834-1919), a colonel in the 7th Missouri Cavalry during the war, served as one of Frank James' defense attorneys during his trial at Gallatin, Missouri. In the first, dated November 14, 1885, Philips is forwarding a copy of the "...speech made in your defence at Gallatin." Nearly one year to the day later, Philips sent a second letter to James, thanking him for "...your interest on my behalf." Philips, a Democrat, had recently lost an election to a Republican candidate. He blamed his loss on "...professed christian gentlemen claiming to be democrats; but who are as dirty a set of traitors...as ever manned a pyratical craft. Chief among these is Dr. [Morrison] Munford...the most cold blooded, selfish, mercenary scamp..."

    Still concerned that he will be prosecuted in the state of Minnesota for his part in the botched 1876 Northfield raid, Philips assures him, in a letter dated January 5, 1887, that "...no indictment exists against you in Minn, or that the State has abandoned the purpose to prosecute...As the chances of identification grow less by time, and witnesses are scattered and dying, it would be strange that they should defer any movement to this late day..." James was never charged for the crime. Later in 1887, James wrote a letter of congratulations to Philips for an appointment in Washington, D.C., a position in which Philips writes that he will be "...declining the place should it be tendered to me...it is an honorable office, [but] it has too many burdens for the compensation and durability...It is however very gratifying to me to know that my friends feel such an interest in my preferment." Philips was appointed a judge of the U.S. Circuit Court, Western District of Missouri, by President Grover Cleveland in 1888, a position he held until 1910.

    In 1891, James was asked to appear at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and he wrote Philips for his advice. Philips responded, in a letter dated September 25, 1891, by saying, "There are but two objections...the possibility of the authorities in Minnesota disturbing you, as the statute of limitations does not run against the charge...Your presence...would be heralded far and wide, and some malicious whelp might try to stir up that old charge...The next objection would be the discomfort and annoyance of having the curious Yankees gazing at you, and offering insults and the like."

    In a letter dated February 2, 1893, Philips thanks James for "...pursuing a course as the vindicate all that I did and have ever claimed of you." The final letter, dated May 19, 1899, regards the publication of Jesse Edward James' [son of Jesse James and nephew to Frank] book, "Jesse James, My Father,": "Such a book...will be on the sensational line...You should adhere rigorously to your resolution in forbidding the use of your name in the book. It will be full of extravagant statements..at the expense of your name and repose...it will be a terrible mistake for him [Jesse] to undertake the sale of such a book, and have it associated with his private business."

    With five of the original transmittal envelopes. Each letter shows the usual folds and some ink bleed-through; light toning and spots of staining scattered throughout.


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    Auction Dates
    June, 2013
    22nd-23rd Saturday-Sunday
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