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    [Frank James]. John Newman Edwards Autograph Letter Signed "J. N. Edwards." Two pages, 5.5" x 11", St. Joseph [Missouri], April 11, 1884. Just days before outlaw Frank James was put on trial to face federal charges connected with an 1881 robbery of a federal paymaster in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, his friend, John N. Edwards sent one last letter of encouragement: "This is probably the last letter you will receive from me before your trial, and so I need not say in it to face that trial like you have faced ten thousand dangers...I do not see how it is possible for us to have done any better on this end of the line. Every point has been made, and every single position of the enemy carried. The last move was a master stroke, and no one yet knows what has been done, or where they have been outflanked..." All of this was possible through the "...devotion of your friends."

    Still confident that James will again beat the charges (as he did eight months earlier in Missouri), he assures him that "...the Otterville business is a myth, and that no requisition can ever touch you after you once more get back to Missouri - neither now nor in the future, for four years at least." Missouri was going to try Frank for the Otterville train robbery, but as the lone witness had died and evidence was missing, the state dropped the case in February 1885.

    He does have some bad news, however: "Gen. [Joe] Shelby was all ready to go to Huntsville when his step father, old man Gratz, died and Jo. was imperatively demanded at Lexington, Kentucky. He may, however, get away in time to get to you when he is needed." Confederate General Joseph Shelby was a key witness for the defense during the Missouri trial (1883), though he appeared on the stand drunk and was fined for contempt.

    Frank's trial began six days after Edwards wrote this letter. The trial lasted ten days and he was cleared of the charges. With original transmittal envelope. Folds; light toning. Minor ink bleed-through.


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