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    Description

    James A. Garfield Autograph Letter Signed "J A Garfield," two pages, 5" x 8", separate sheets. House of Representatives, February 20, 1877. To J.F. Scofield, Painesville, Ohio. Scofield was the editor of the Telegraph, a Republican newspaper. The Democrat was also published in Painesville. In full, "You have probably seen the infamous article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer of the 12th February charging the Senator and I visited an octaroon [sic] dance house of prostitution - The story is a lie from beginning to end so far as Sherman & I are concerned. I have determined to call the Editor to account by indictment in the courts if he does not retract his slander, and make ample apology- I have also determined to prosecute any Democratic Editor in the 19th Dist. who shall copy the libel. I know the little paper in Painesville is hardly worth notice; but I propose to teach all these people that there is a limit to their rascality. Will you please send me any copy of that paper which prints the article. With kindest regards."

    During the Civil War, circa 1862-1863, Garfield had an extramarital affair with Lucia Calhoun, a New York Times reporter, which he later regretted and confessed to his wife. It's interesting to note that an article in the March 22, 1862 edition of The New York Times headed "The Affair at Pound Gap" was just about Garfield: "Col. Garfield is taking good care of Eastern Kentucky...Here it has been the business of Garfield to watch, and wearying of the task, the Union leader suddenly swooped down upon the rebel encampment, and by one of those stalwart strokes he is accustomed to inflict, scattered its occupants. The President has, doubtless, something in store for this vigilant and meritorious officer." On February 19, 1862, the U.S. Senate had confirmed President Lincoln's nomination of Col. "Garfield of the 42d Ohio Volunteers, to be brigadier-general, January 11, 1862, for gallant and meritorious conduct at the battle of Prestonburg, Kentucky." Garfield was elected to the 38th Congress in 1862 and remained in military service until he took his seat on December 7, 1863, the first day of the 38th Congress. Garfield was later involved in the Crédit Mobilier Scandal, in which he had received $329 from stock in the notorious company, a remuneration which Democrats, during the 1880 presidential campaign, characterized as a bribe and played up as a campaign issue by plastering walls, sidewalks, and placards with "329." He had also been accused of accepting fees from a company trying to obtain a paving contract in the city of Washington.

    At the time the slanderous article was published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, today Ohio's largest newspaper, Garfield, who represented Ohio's 19th Congressional District, was a member of the 15-member Electoral Commission created by Congress "to provide for and regulate the counting of votes for President and Vice President" in the Hayes-Tilden electoral vote dispute. The Commission, voting 8-7 on party lines, decided that all 20 disputed electoral votes would go to Republican Hayes, giving him the presidency, 185 electoral votes to Tilden's 184. On March 8, 1877, Ohio Senator John Sherman was appointed Secretary of the Treasury by President Hayes. In the Cleveland Plain Dealer article referred to in this letter, both Congressman Garfield and Senator Sherman were accused of visiting "an octaroon dance house of prostitution." An octoroon denoted a person of one-eighth Black ancestry. William W. Armstrong, the newspaper editor, was a Democratic Party political leader in Ohio. Painesville, Ohio, mentioned by Garfield, is on Lake Erie, about 30 miles northeast of Cleveland, with a population in 1877 of about than 3,800. Notwithstanding the various scandals mentioned above, James A. Garfield was reelected to the U.S. House of Representatives eight times and was elected to the U.S. Senate on January 13, 1880 for the term beginning March 4, 1881. On November 4, 1880, Congressman and Senator-elect Garfield was elected 20th President of the United States. There is a small hole in the upper left blank margin, repaired on verso, and a minor smudge, probably by Garfield. Accompanied by the original 5.25" x 3" stamped envelope, postmarked Washington, D.C., addressed by Garfield to "J.F. Scofield Esq./Painesville/Ohio." The letter and envelope are in very fine condition.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2007
    16th-17th Monday-Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
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