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Mosby, John S. (1833-1916) to James L. Kemper

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04734 Author/Creator: Mosby, John S. (1833-1916) Place Written: Warrenton, Virginia Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 14 December 1873 Pagination: 2 p. ; 25.3 x 20.3 cm.

Written on "Office of John S. Mosby, Attorney at Law" letterhead. Writes to Kemper, Governor-elect of Virginia, about Reconstruction and Southern rights: "Of course I never designed to advise an unconditional alliance between Grant & the Southern people: but only on the express condition that security is given us against any further oppressions on Southern rights. If however Sumner's Civil Rights bill (which by the by Mr Greeley was earnestly advocating in the Tribune the week he was nominated) becomes an Administration measure (which I do not believe) no man will more earnestly oppose it than I. I think that now is a propitious time to come to some understanding with th[ose] who shape the policy of the Republican party. In an interview I had with Grant a few days after your election he expressed the opinion that the negroes wd at least attempt to break off from any connection with either party & form themselves into [2] a third party & put themselves up to the highest bidder. My own opinion is that the Republicans wd prefer the white people of the South to the negroes- There are some exceptions such as Sumner..." Discusses candidates for various political posts and his attempts to meet with Grant to advise "as to his [Grant's] policy" [toward Virginia?]. Says he has left John Scott and Jim Barbour "down there on a scout" (presumably to meet with Grant, which Mosby had been unable to arrange).

Mosby was a Confederate guerrilla fighter in the Civil War. After the war, he resumed his law practice and upset many of his former supporters by joining the Republican Party and backing Ulysses S. Grant for President in 1868. Sumner and the Radical Republicans pushed a civil rights bill beginning in 1866, legislation designed to protect freedmen from Southern Black Codes. After his death, the bill became the Civil Rights Act of 1875, outlawing racial discrimination in public places. The Supreme Court overturned the law in 1883. From American National Biography: "...Kemper was appalled by the advent of Congressional Reconstruction and by the temporary ascendancy of the racially egalitarian, carpetbagger-dominated Republican party in Virginia. Anxious to thwart these developments, he helped to organize the state's white supremacy- oriented Conservative party in 1867, served as delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1868, and supported the coalition of Conservatives and moderate ("true") Republicans that defeated the Radical wing of the Virginia GOP in gubernatorial elections in 1869. Three years later he campaigned across the state as an at-large elector for the Liberal Republican-Democratic presidential ticket..." Kemper was inaugurated as Governor of Virginia in January 1874.

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