"NO MAN COULD BE ELECTED TO CONGRESS MORE DISTINCTLY PLEDGED TO SUPPORT THE POLICY OF THE ADMINISTRATION": FASCINATING SIGNED AUTOGRAPH LETTER BY CONFEDERATE COLONEL AND REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE JOHN MOSBY TO VIRGINIA DEMOCRAT J.W. MARSHALL REDEFINING THE 1874 CONGRESSIONAL RACE AS PRO- OR ANTI-GRANT AND URGING MARSHALL TO DISCOURAGE ADDITIONAL CANDIDATES FROM ENTERING THE RACE
MOSBY, John S. Autograph letter signed. Warrenton, Virginia, April 29, 1874. Two sheets of lined blue paper, each measuring 8-1/4 by 10-1/2 inches; pp. 2. $4500.
Original signed autograph letter from Confederate Colonel James Mosby to Virginia politician James William Marshall regarding the 1874 congressional election in which Mosby, a supporter of the Grant Administration, was attempting to discourage the entry of other candidates into the race.
The letter, dated "Warrenton Apl. 29th 74" and written entirely in Mosby's hand to Virginia Representative James William Marshall, reads in full: "J.W. Marshall Esq—My dear Sir. I observe an announcement in the papers that there is a move on foot to nominate Phelps for Congress. He may have been induced to encourage the idea of his nomination for Congress by thinking that I wd continue to run on as a candidate until the close of the canvass. In this he is mistaken. To be sure I shall not immediately withdraw if Phelps or any one else is nominated—I shall continue in the canvass until it is demonstrated (or it very soon will be) on whom the Republican vote is going to concentrate. Of course if I see it is going against me I shall withdraw as I wd inevitably be beaten if I continued in the canvass. My withdrawal wd of course secure Hunton's reelection who is one of the bitterest opponents in Congress of the Administration. If Phelps runs it will be in Hunton's interests or a friend of Hunton. On the contrary no man could be elected to Congress more distinctly pledged to support the policy of the Administration than myself. The President is perfectly satisfied with my position & has promised me all the influence of the Administration for he very well knows that he has no warmer friend than I am. I write for this in order that you may say to all there who contemplate nominating a candidate just to have me beaten, that they may defeat me but they can't get any aid from my candidacy to elect their man. If they are sincere friends of Genl. Grant's Administration they will support me—but they need not have any hopes of electing a third candidate owing to a division of the conservative vote through my candidacy. But it does seem to me that as any man they nominate is obviously running in Hunton's interest, he should not be recognized as an Administration candidate. If I do not represent the district in the next Congress, Hunton will. It is simply a question of choice between us—nothing can defeat me except the machinations of some man like Carter & Phelps who while professing to be friends of the Administration are really its foes. I am Very Truly Yours Jno:Mosby." This letter gets to the heart of Virginia politics in 1874. Here, Mosby explains his intention to continue running as a Republican candidate for Congress as long as (and only as long as) it does not divide the conservative vote. He further asserts that other candidates should be discouraged from entering the race, as voters should be able to make a clear choice between a Republican and a Democrat (i.e. a pro-Grant candidate and an anti-Grant candidate) without internal politics shifting the vote counts. Interestingly, Mosby's correspondent, James William Marshall, was a locally famous Democrat, having served in state politics prior to securing a term in the House. Mosby's machinations are further complicated by his strong support of his opponent Eppa Hunton, who was, in fact, Mosby's close friend. Mosby was well known for having removed Republican opposition to Hunton's election. Mosby even sold his Warrenton mansion to Hunton in 1877. In many ways, this reflects a politician at his most canny and reflects the strategic acumen that made him a colonel. In his autobiography, Grant praised Mosby as "a different man entirely from what I supposed… He is able and thoroughly honest and truthful." From the collection of prominent American history collector William Wheeler III.
Minor wear to edges touching just a few letters, tape repairs to verso. An interesting and desirable letter in exceptionally good condition.