Lot 8035: Theodore Roosevelt Typed Signed Letter
28th June 2018
TLS as president, two pages on two adjoining sheets, 7 x 9, White House letterhead, November 17, 1905. Letter to Captain Charles H. Scott of Montgomery, Alabama. In full: "I have your letter of the 15th instant. There is one point upon which I ought not to keep silence. You speak in your letter of Judge Jones being a Democrat and voting against me. I appointed Judge Jones knowing he was a Democrat. I neither expected nor wished him to vote for me, and if he had done so it would have made me a little uneasy. You make [serious] accusations against Judge Jones. It is a matter of simple justice to the Judge for me to say that the Attorney General and I have followed most closely his conduct as Judge. I appointed him largely because while Governor he made so courageous and disinterested a stand against all crimes of violence, especially the crime of lynching. As Judge he has more than borne out my hopes. What he has done in the matter of peonage alone renders all good citizens of the United States his debtors. I was shocked and surprised at the revelations about Marshal Bryan. I am still having the matter looked up." In fine condition, with two areas of paper loss, affecting one word of text. Thomas G. Jones of Alabama was an uncommonly reform-minded Democrat. As governor from 1890 to 1894, he was often at odds with the state legislature in his efforts to hold sheriffs more accountable for lynch mobs, and for his opposition to efforts to limit funding for black schools. As president in 1901, Roosevelt appointed Jones as a federal judge in Alabama's district court. Beginning in 1903, Jones presided over a series of trials brought by the government against local officials, landlords, and employers whose corrupt arrangements held many black laborers and poor whites in peonage, or debt slavery. Although Jones found the actions of the defendants outrageous, he meted out mild punishments, convinced that the threat of exposure and future prosecution would serve as a deterrent. This letter demonstrates President Roosevelt's steadfast commitment to American ideals, rather than party politics—he did not appoint Jones to win a vote, but to improve the lives of "all good citizens of the United States."
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