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    Confederate guerilla fighter Mosby is angry after the death of a college football player in a Virginia-Georgetown game, calling it "murder."

    John Singleton Mosby Typed Letter Signed "Jno. S. Mosby," five pages, 8" x 10.5" (first page 8" x 9.75"). November 18, 1909. To Eppa Hunton, an alumnus of the University of Virginia and member of the college's Board of Visitors. In part, "I have read with indignation mingled with great sorrow the account of the murder of young Christian, a student of the University of Virginia, in a foot-ball game with Georgetown. I use the word murder advisedly -- the killing was not an accident - the law presumes that a man intends the natural and probable consequences of his acts...Some years ago I expressed to Doctor [Edwin A.] Alderman [President, University of Virginia] my objection to foot-ball because it was not a recreation for students but that they were making it a profession; that it developed the brutal instincts of our nature and that it should be no part of the curriculum of the University; which it now is...If he is correctly reported by the morning paper Doctor Alderman has come to my way of thinking for he admits that Christian's death was not accidental. Therefore it was murder; and the Faculty of the Virginia University who authorized and encouraged the deed to give publicity to their school are accessories before the fact...But if the danger is eliminated nothing will be left of the game; the danger is not only the chief but the only attraction to the mob that gathers to witness it; without it there ill be no rooters to cheer the combatants and no heroes with broken limbs and bloody noses to hail Doctor Alderman -- O ! Caesar ! ! morituri salutamus - 'We who are about to die Salute you'..." On lightweight paper, minor stains and nicks at edges of the first page, ten handwritten corrections by Mosby. Overall, fine condition.

    An early report of the tragedy was published in the November 14, 1909 edition of The New York Times. In part: "After playing the star game for his side, Archie Christian, Jr., of Roanoke, Va., left half back on the University of Virginia eleven, was seriously, it is feared fatally, injured in a gamer of football here this afternoon with Georgetown University. Christian was carrying the ball for his victorious team, two of his men running with him, when he was thrown to the earth and buried beneath a pile of kicking players. When doctors made an examination he was found to have suffered concussion of the brain. He was operated on, and late tonight it is a question whether he can recover. Christian did not recover consciousness after the operation..." The 18-year-old died the next morning. One of the doctors who tried to save his life was neurosurgeon Dr. Harvey Cushing, a pioneer in brain surgery. After Christian's death, both teams cancelled the remaining games on their schedule.

    In December 1909, Dr. Alderman addressed a meeting of the relatively new Intercollegiate Athletic Association, urging the adoption of laws to eliminate football's dangers including his athletic director's suggestion that the game be divided into quarters with a long rest between halves. The one reform that might have saved Archie Christian Jr.'s life - helmets - was not mandated until 1939.




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    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    4th-5th Wednesday-Thursday
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