DescriptionWade Hampton III Protest Letter Signed and Autograph Letter Signed. Lieutenant General Wade Hampton III (1818-1902) served in the Confederate Cavalry throughout the war. A native of South Carolina, he went into politics in the postbellum years, serving as the state Democratic Party's chairman and actively opposing the Reconstruction policies of the Radical Republicans. He ran for governor of South Carolina during the 1876 election which ended in dispute. Hampton and the incumbent, Republican Governor Daniel H. Chamberlain, both claimed victory and each party formed their own Congress, claiming legitimacy.
On November 30, 1876, Democratic Party Leaders Hampton, John B. Gordon, and Alexander C. Haskell sent a Letter of Protest to Department of the South commander General Thomas H. Ruger. In the letter, the three express their dissatisfaction with what they felt were a sting of broken promises. Shortly before the writing of this letter, Ruger gave an order that spectators were not to be allowed during a session of the (Democratic) House. This order, coupled with an order that armed guards would be posted around the building, aroused the ire of the group: "To say that we are surprised at such an order after the explanations & pledges made by you to each one of us, is to use very mild language. When the outrage of Tuesday was committed by the placing of armed sentinels at the door of the House of Representatives, who decided upon the admission of members to their seats, and when the provisions of the Constitution & the decision of the Supreme Court were brought to your attention, you distinctly and warmly asserted again & again that your orders were misunderstood...What now can justly measure our astonishment at the issuance of such an order as the one just sent by you...We cannot refrain from expressing the apprehension that the fact that a number of leading Republicans are taking issue with the legality of the proceedings by the Republican House has changed your views as to your line of duty...It is proper that we should say in conclusion that we relied upon your honor as a man & your character as a soldier to maintain your pledged position of nonintervention... Let the American people behold the spectacle of a Brigadier General of the Army seated by the side of Gov. Chamberlain in a room of the State House issuing his orders to a Legislative Body peacefully assembled in one of the original Thirteen Commonwealths of this Union."
Attached is a second letter from Alexander Haskell at the House to John Gordon stating: "The members walked quietly into the Hall...Mackey has come in and announced his intention to oust Wallace from the chair. We have no idea yet of the coursed, but you can give notice to Gen Ruger. We ask nothing except the recognition of the fact that we are here peacefully and defenceless [sic]."
One week later, Hampton sent a one page ALS, 7.75" x 10", Columbia, December 7, 1876, to Thomas H. Ruger regarding the call of a committee to remove the South Carolina House back to the Capital. "I beg to say that I regard such action as unnecessary at present. I wish to avoid all...collision & our House can carry on its legislature in this Hall...We have appealed to the Courts & we propose to abide by their decision."
The State Supreme Court eventually declared Hampton the winner of the gubernatorial race, signifying an end of Reconstruction in the South.
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