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    [1876 Presidential Election]. Grouping of Letters from Hamburg and Aiken County, South Carolina during the tumultuous election of 1876. Comprised of eleven letters, five telegrams, and six reports and dispatches spanning October 30, 1876 through January 11, 1877. Following the end of the Civil War in 1865, the southern states were under military occupation and the jurisdiction of the Department of the South. In the weeks leading up to the election on November 7, Republican leaders, as well as the U. S. Marshals, requested assistance from Brevet Brigadier General Thomas H. Ruger, commander of the Department of the South, to assist in keeping the peace. Threats and acts of violence by Democrats against anyone voting the Republican ticket as well as violence to Black Democrats by Black Republicans were commonplace in the months leading up to the election.

    The small, defunct town of Hamburg, South Carolina, located in Aiken County, was the scene of such violence in the summer of 1876. The town had been occupied by former slaves since the end of the war. On July 4, the Hamburg Company of the South Carolina National Guard (an all black unit) was drilling in town when two white farmers arrived in carriages and tried to drive through. For one reason or another (conflicting stories exist on both sides) they were denied passage and complained of their treatment in the local court. The militia was ordered to disarm and, when they refused, hundreds of armed white men assembled. The militia unit sought cover in the local armory and were soon under assault. One white man was killed in the exchange and the black troops made an escape, one man was killed in the attempt and several more were rounded up and executed. The town was subsequently looted. So as not to have a repeat of such episodes, the authorities were vigilant about providing protection to the citizenry during the election.

    Oh note are two letters from George Washington Custis Lee, eldest son of General Robert E. Lee, to General Thomas H. Ruger, commander of the Department of the South, concerning the welfare of an aging woman (and prominent citizen) who had recently left her farm, the only thing she has remaining, following the death of her elderly mother and the disturbances in nearby Aiken: George Washington Custis Lee ALS. Three integral pages, 7.5" x 9.75", Lexington [Virginia], December 27, 1876. Lee writes to Ruger, in part: "...an elderly and estimable lady..." who has recently left her farm "...in consequence of disturbance at Aiken, S. C...her only dependence and means of support..." The lady in question is one Elizabeth P. Gist, "...the granddaughter of a distinguished officer of the American Revolution, Genl. Mordecai Gist, of the Maryland and Virginia line..." Lee continues by asking a favor of Ruger: "...it is the particular object of this letter to request...that you will cause to be extended to this estimable lady, at her home, whatever protection may be necessary to enable her to return and remain there..." A few weeks later, Lee sends a second letter thanking Ruger for his help: George Washington Custis Lee ALS. Three integral pages, 5" x 8", Lexington, January 11, 1877. Lee thanks Ruger "...for your prompt and kind attention to my previous communication...The friends of Mrs. Gist here will be glad to have your account of her condition, and would, I am sure...join me in acknowledging your good offices in the matter."

    Also contained within is a William T. Sherman Autograph Note Signed "W. T. Sherman," November 26, 1876, at the end of a letter from Secretary of War J. Donald Cameron, which reads: "Received at 11:15 PM, Nov 26 and sent to its address at the hand of my ADC [aide-de-camp] Col John Bacon with all despatch [sic], who will deliver this original to Genl Ruger or in his absence to Col Black at Columbia and return to his post at Washington." The original letter from Secretary of War Cameron relays a statement from President Grant that Governor D. H. Chamberlain "...is now Governor of the State of South Carolina beyond any controversy and remains so until a new Governor shall be duly and legally inaugurated...the Government has been called upon to aid with the military and naval forces of the united States...You are directed therefore to sustain Governor Chamberlain in his authority against domestic violence until otherwise directed." Countersigned by J. Donald Cameron.


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    H. Catley Fair Copy of a Report, November 12, 1876, regarding the movement and actions of Co. "C" 2nd Infantry at Aiken, South Carolina during the 1876 election. He gives an account of the breakup of a meeting of Republicans whereby a black Deputy U. S. Marshal had a pistol drawn on him by a white man. He moves into the town with a group of 12 soldiers in an effort to keep the peace. Enclosed are a copy of his orders to move to Aiken and a copy of a letter from the Deputy Marshal who had the pistol drawn on him.

    [William T. Sherman]. Telegram from Sherman, December 20, 1876, to Thomas H. Ruger giving him permission to spend the holidays in Atlanta and informing him of which "...companies you can spare." Also, an official copy of the telegram.

    Thomas H. Ruger Copy of a Dispatch, December 2, 1876, from Secretary of War J. Donald Cameron to Thomas H. Ruger directing him that Governor Chamberlain "...should exercise his own resources to purge the legislature..." and if he is "...resisted in this it will be your duty to enforce his authority." Ruger is sending a copy back to make certain of his orders.

    Thomas H. Ruger Fair Copy of a Letter, December 3, 1876, to President Grant reporting the "...present state of case in connection with persons claiming to be members of the lower House of Legislature who the Supreme Court of State had decided entitled to the usual certificates of election."

    Thomas H. Ruger Fair Copy of a Letter, December 3, 1876, to President Grant asking him to answer a previous dispatch.

    James Stewart Fair Copy of a Letter, December 3, 1876, to E. R. Kellogg reporting his action in guarding the doors of the State House during a meeting of the Legislature.

    E. R. Kellogg Fair Copy of a Letter, December 3, 1876, reporting the action of his soldiers under his command while guarding the doors of the State House during a meeting of the Legislature.

    J. Donald Cameron Fair Copy of a Telegram, December 5, 1876, to Thomas H. Ruger reiterating, at the behest of Governor Chamberlain, the president's instructions to "...prevent all outsiders from interfering with the Legislature."

    Thomas H. Ruger Fair Copy of a Telegram, December 4, 1876, to President Grant regarding the canvassing of returns for the recent election.

    Thomas H. Ruger Fair Copy of a Telegram, December 5, 1876, to President Grant assuring him that he "...had no intention to allow outsiders to interfere with the Legislature." He then explains that he has two Companies in the State House as before.

    E. R. Kellogg Fair Copy of a Letter, December 6, 1876, regarding his relief "...from duty at the State House."

    Thomas H. Ruger Copy of a Telegram, December 1, 1876, to William T. Sherman or J. Donald Cameron reporting the "...present condition of things and states what has been heretofore done by the troops relative to the meeting of the Legislature, &c." Ruger begins by stating his opinion "...that the wisest course will be to permit the two bodies claiming to be the House to worry the contest out so long as the public peace is preserved, at least for the present, I think the result will be as satisfactory a conclusion as can be attained by interference." He goes on to describe his placement of troops in the State House, "...but not in the rooms of Assembly of either of the Houses." to check the certificates of those candidates trying to gain admission into the Hall. He includes a transcript of a "...memorandum of the opinion of the Supreme Court of the State..." with relation to the situation in the State Legislature.

    W. P. Goodwin Fair Copy of a Report, November 10, 1876, concerning the happenings in Aiken, South Carolina, during Election Day, 1876.

    W. J. Turner Fair Copy of a Report, November 10, 1876, concerning the happenings in Jordan's Mills, South Carolina, during Election Day, 1876.

    J. E. Quentin Fair Copy of a Report, November 10, 1876, concerning the happenings in Beech Island, South Carolina, during Election Day, 1876.

    William Mills Fair Copy of a Report, November 10, 1876, concerning the happenings in Aiken, South Carolina, during Election Day, 1876.

    Daniel H. Chamberlain ALS, October 30, 1876, to Thomas H. Ruger regarding a change of ideas for Aiken County.

    George G. Clyde ALS, November 3, 1876, to Governor Chamberlain regarding the absence of U. S. troops from the heavily Republican county of Aiken, S. C. without them the Republicans will not be able to vote.

    Daniel H. Chamberlain ALS, November 10, 1876, to Thomas H. Ruger as a reminder for soldiers at Hamburg in Aiken County.



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