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This signed autograph letter (1867) found the former Alabama governor in pitiful condition: imprisoned, impoverished, sick, and separated from his family, worried that his possessions stored in a trunk will be stolen. "Oh, is not our lot a hard one in this world!"
Autograph Letter signed: "R Chapman", 2 pages (front and verso), 5x8. Sumter County, Alabama, 1867 February 15. To "Dear Cabaniss", in part: "... To give you an account of my detention here .. would take me about a week, and you to read it more time than you can spare until after the election at least, but when we meet, which I hope will be before long, I will tell you all about it. Let me say in brief, that I have been sick, out of spirits, and more at hazard in all sorts of ways than I have ever been before in all my life. How I lived through it all is a mystery. ... As to your election, there can't possibly be a doubt. You don't tell me when it comes off, but if I thought there was any need of my vote by the way, I don't know by what means I will be addressed to vote. ... Here I can write to you as my wife has often asked me to do, have our things kept at the Hotel, most especially the large trunk containing all my wife's valuables taken good care of? The trunk sometimes comes open so it ought to be where no one can take advantage of it. My wife has written to me very often about it. ... You say John B. is getting well again. I am glad to hear it, but you say he has not [repaid?] that old debt. Surely he will not ... expect to get it out of me, for I am not worth a cent in the world. I haven't half enough to pay my own debts. ... I have just heard that my wife is just recovering from a winter spell of sickness of which I knew nothing, nor does she know that I have been sick. Oh! Is not our lot a hard one in this world. ..." Reuben Chapman (1799-1882), an Alabama lawyer, owned a cotton plantation in the state's "Black Belt." He served as a Democrat in the US House of Representatives (1835-1849) and as Governor (1847-1849). Becoming governor in the wake of the failure of the state-chartered Bank of Alabama, he struggled with some success to restore fiscal solvency, but his deep suspicion of banks in general limited his ability to propose reforms. Chapman was a zealous supporter of slavery, who even argued for admission of California to the Union as a slave state. He had second thoughts in 1860, however, and sought unsuccessfully to prevent the northern and southern wings of the Democratic Party from nominating rival candidates. He was a Presidential Elector for Jefferson Davis in 1862, however. Chapman suffered greatly during the Civil War, losing a son in battle, having his plantation burned, and being briefly imprisoned. His prospects improved after this letter was written, however, and he died a prosperous man. 3 horizontal fold creases. Lightly toned and creased. Left edge lightly ragged. Otherwise fine condition.

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Born: July 15, 1799 in Bowling Green, Caroline County, Virginia
Died: May 16, 1882 in Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama

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