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LT. GENERAL JAMES "LEE'S WAR HORSE" LONGSTREET - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 06/25/1889 - HFSID 292127

Believing he has been defrauded in a major New Orleans railroad deal, Longstreet writes his former artillery officer and business partner Col. W. M. Owen: "We can afford to employ lawyers to settle upon amicably or through the Courts.…"

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JAMES LONGSTREET
Believing he has been defrauded in a major New Orleans railroad deal, Longstreet writes his former artillery officer and business partner Col. W. M. Owen: "We can afford to employ lawyers to settle upon amicably or through the Courts."
Autograph Letter signed: "James Longstreet", 4 pages (front and verso), 6x9½. Gainesville, Georgia, 1889 June 25. On lightly lined pages to Col. W[illiam] M[Miller] Owen, New Orleans. In full: "My attention has just been called to the transfer of Franchise of the original New Orleans and South Eastern Railway, both Company to the Company that afterwards built the road. The franchise I am told was worth half a million of dollars and as I understand was never regularly transferred to the new Company. I have been under the impression that the transfer was duly made, but am now informed that it was not, the last President of the Board Jn. Graham died, and that the Board of Directors was not duly reorganized, with a new President, up to the time of the new Company taking possession of the Board and going to work to build. We spent much time and money in getting the franchise which gave us extensive privileges in the city of New Orleans and elsewhere. This matter may be worth looking up and if you can find the facts in the case such as I understand them now, we can afford to employ lawyers to settle upon amicably or through the Courts. My impression is that I agree with the new Company some years ago as to my interest in the regional stock and bonds under the impression that the Franchise had been duly transferred, but the information that reaches me now is to the affect as already stated and the new Company took and used our valuable Franchise without due compensation or authority. They gave me a thousand dollars in their new stocks for my old stocks and bonds and this new stock as I understand is not of any value in any way. In other words they have put a fraud upon me and got not only my bonds and stock but this valuable Franchise which could not have been had otherwise at half a million dollars. Please give the matter a little of your spare time and see what may become of it." [signature] "I believe that I was the first Partnr. of the Company and continued to be for some two or three years." General James Longstreet (1821-1904) had been a Confederate Corps Commander at Second Manassas, Antietam, Gettysburg and Chickamauga. Recognized today as one of the Civil War's finest generals - Robert E. Lee called him his "war horse" - Longstreet surrendered with Lee at Appomattox. After the war, he became what other southerners called a "scalawag," a white man who accepted Reconstruction, including equality for blacks, and joined the Republican Party. President Grant appointed him Collector of Customs in New Orleans, and President Hayes named him in 1880 as ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. His postwar politics earned the ire of unreconstructed Confederates, who wrote military histories blaming him for the South's defeat. When Democrat Grover Cleveland was elected President in 1884, Longstreet retired to a farm, Parkhill, near Gainesville, Georgia. Two months before he wrote this letter (April 9, 1889, the anniversary of the surrender at Appomattox), Longstreet's home in Gainesville was destroyed by fire. Lost in the blaze were his Civil War documents and memorabilia. Like many Civil War generals from both sides, Longstreet invested with mixed success in railroad ventures afterwards. He would serve as Railroad Commissioner under Presidents McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt (1897-1904). Colonel W. M. Owen (1834-1893) had served under Longstreet as an artillery officer. The two were business partners in New Orleans from 1866 in the firm of Longstreet, Owen and Company. Multiple mailing folds. Toned. Heavily toned at lower edge. Pin size hole on first page near bottom edge. Corners creased and lightly worn. Otherwise, fine condition.

 

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