IVERSON S. HARRIS - DOCUMENT SIGNED 06/12/1865 CO-SIGNED BY: MAJOR GENERAL JAMES H. WILSON - HFSID 274693
Sale Price $765.00
IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE CIVIL WAR, A SOUTHERN JUDGE WHO HAS NOT YET PLEDGED
LOYALTY TO THE U.S. ASKS THE MILITARY AUTHORITIES IF HE SHOULD CONTINUE HIS
IVERSON HARRIS and JAMES WILSON. Autograph Documentary Letter signed: "Iverson S Harris" as Judge of the Georgia Superior Court, with Autograph Endorsement on verso signed "J. H. Wilson/Brevet Major General" of the Union Army occupying Macon, Georgia. 3p (integral leaf), 7½x12½. Milledgeville, Georgia, 1865 June 12. In full: "Suffer me to return my thanks for your prompt and courteous response of the 12th Ult. to the inquiries propounded in my letter to General Wayne and which was transmitted by him. Encouraged by that reply to continue the discharge of my Judicial duties, some weeks since I ordered under an Act of the last legislature of this State authorizing Called Courts for the trial of Criminal Cases under the Penal Code, a special court to convene here on Monday the 20th Inst, for the trial of a person named Byrom charged with the larceny of several mules from Bibb County. Today however my attention has been called to President Johnson's Amnesty proclamation; as interpreted by many (I suppose in connection with reported conversations of the President) that none belonging to any of the several departments of the State Government will be recognized by him as entitled to perform the duties of his office unless he held it before the Civil War began - and that the term of appointment has not expired - and then only upon taking the oath of allegiance prescribed. I was appointed before the war - and was continued in office by re-nomination and confirmation by the State Senate in March last. I have not taken the oath of allegiance - simply because there is no one here to administer it rightfully to me. Without expressing my construction of the Amnesty proclamation, I feel that it is prudent to pause for a while and await some official exposition of a clause which if published correctly is ambiguous - or so comprehensive as to sweep from office every one appointed within the last four years - in the aggregate not less than three thousand persons. I will therefore adjourn the Special Court called. The man Byrom was committed to jail by the warrant of two Justices of the Supr. Court. He obtained possession of the mules (so the prosecution stated) by arresting the owner and the mules falsely in your name and by your authority only. I am apprehensive the accused if kept here may escape from jail. His detention is a daily expense to the county. As it is impossible now to ascertain when a civil tribunal could hear and decide this case, allow me General respectfully to suggest that you send over a guard for the prisoner, and if he be liable to trial before a military court of the jurisdiction of which no one is more conversant than yourself, that his alleged guilt be by it examined and if established by proof that exemplary punishment be inflicted. I have the Honor to be with high consideration General your obedient servant. Full text of General Wilson's autograph endorsement, forwarded to Major General [George] Thomas, Macon, Georgia, 1865 June 15: "Respectfully forwarded for the information and action of Maj. Gen. Thomas. Realizing the difficulty in such cases as this & having no official information of the terms of the President's late proclamation, I cannot undertake to decide the Status of Judge Harris and others situated as he is. I have therefore approved his action in adjourning his court and ordered the prisoner to be delivered to the Provost Marshall of this city for trial by him or a military commission. There is a practical difficulty, during the interregnum between the suspension of the C.S. civil order & the reestablishment of the true law, in the enforcement of justice, through the medium of the present incumbents of office or military authority. It would seem to me that an order should be issued by competent authority ordering all civil officers below & including the grade of Judge of the Superior Court to execute municipal, statutory & common law, in accordance with the principles of substantial justice, under whatever authority they may hold their commissions, after having taken the oath of allegiance to the U. S. and till new officers can be appointed or elected. The Georgia code is one of extreme complexity & there is scarcely a paragraph in the entire statute not interwoven with the barbaric principles governing and controlling slavery. A provisional Governor should be appointed at once, and I'm free to confess I have met but few men in the State eligible for the position." JAMES H. WILSON (1837-1925) ranked sixth in the West Point class of 1860. Originally an engineer, he served on the staffs of Generals McClellan at Antietam and Grant at Vicksburg. Grant and later Sherman entrusted him with cavalry commands, a duty at which he excelled, as his horsemen swept through Georgia and occupied Macon in April 1865. Wilson's troops captured the fleeing Confederate President Jefferson Davis in May. Retired from the service in 1870, Wilson returned to uniform as a Major General of Volunteers in Puerto Rico and Cuba during the Spanish-American War and saw service in China during the Boxer Rebellion (1901). IVERSON S. HARRIS, a lifelong resident of Milledgeville, Georgia, was the town's mayor in 1842. In 1832 he built a fine home there which was purchased 90 years later by longtime U.S. Congressman Carl Vinson. Milledgeville was capital of Georgia from 1803 to 1868. Slightly soiled. Otherwise, fine condition.
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