Lot 17: James A. Garfield signed letter with Autograph Postscript and Free Frank
5th March 2019
LS signed “J. A. Garfield,” one page, 7.75 x 10, May 7, 1873. Letter to the Hon. John Peter Robison in Cleveland, in part: "Your letter is exactly what I wanted and I hope it is not too late to get it into my paper. News comes this morning that Mr. Ames is dying, and perhaps he will be dead before this paper reaches you. We shall now hear in many of the newspapers a blast of praise of the man they have been so denouncing; and they will probably insist that he alone of all the set was the honest man and the rest mere thieves. If he dies, it will be a serious embarrassment to my article, in which I severely criticise his testimony. And yet I do not see that I can avoid doing it. I found the family all will except the baby, who is still coughing hard, although I think he improves." Includes an autograph postscript by Garfield, signed "J.A.G.," written in pencil on a 5 x 8 sheet, in full: "P.S. I hear some mutterings in reference to Pacific Mail…newspaper correspondents—do you hear anything more? Did you write any letters to any New York parties, and of which anything could be made? I presume not; but in this era of suspicion & attack you never know what will be said or charged. Please drop me a note on this topic." Includes the original free-franked House of Representatives mailing envelope, addressed in another hand to Robison and franked in the upper right, "J. A. Garfield." In very good to fine condition, with creasing and toning to the free-franked envelope. A year earlier, Congressman Oakes Ames had become embroiled in the 'Credit Mobilier Scandal,' when it was exposed that in 1867, during the construction of the first transcontinental railroad, he had distributed cash bribes and discounted shares of Credit Mobilier stock to other congressmen in exchange for votes and actions favorable to the Union Pacific Railroad. Garfield was among the politicians implicated in accepting stock, casting a blemish on his good name. Congress had passed a resolution formally censuring Ames on February 28, 1873, bringing about an official end to the controversial affair, and Ames died soon afterward on May 8, 1873—one day after Garfield sent this letter. Although Garfield was never exactly exonerated from the claims, and Democrats attacked him with talk of the scandal during his run for president in 1880, the Credit Mobilier crisis ultimately had little effect on his political career.
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