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United States/Covers & Postmarks : 1880s cover without a postmark and containing political contents pertaining to assassinated President James A. Garfield

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keesindy
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07 Jul 2019
10:19:37am
Postal history can be more educational that anticipated! This cover shows no indication of who sent this and has no date stamp to identify where it was mailed; only the killer. Was this intentional? The contents were political in nature and Republican President Garfield had just died from the wound suffered at the hand of his assassin a few months earlier.

The cover was probably addressed to the Springfield Transcript newspaper of Springfield, Ohio. The Library of Congress says this democratic newspaper was published from 1867 to 1888.

The nondescript cover contained two enclosures. One was an advertising piece on heavy paper and the other was a folded piece on newsprint. The advertising piece came from S. J. Roberts & Co., Herald Job Rooms, Cleveland, Ohio, and is dated September 26, 1881. The item measures 7 by 11 inches and advertised the sale of a “memento,” a printed copy of the last letter President Garfield wrote. The author is suggesting that publications such as the Springfield Transcript could purchase the mementos in bulk and distribute them to readers “as a premium or supplement.”

The “memento” being advertised also happened to be President Garfield’s last letter to his mother in Hiram, Ohio, about 30 miles southeast of Cleveland. The letter was penned a few weeks after the president had been shot by an assassin on July 2, 1881, and this advertising promotion was dated a week after the president’s death.

The second item, when fully unfolded, is 9½ by 12 inches. The inside portion that I didn’t scan shows a full size facsimile of a January 23, 1880, handwritten personal letter from Representative Garfield on House of Representatives stationery. This was a few months before he would become the Republican candidate for president and then win the election. Rep. Garfield’s letter was addressed to H. L. Morey, Employers’ Union, Lynn, Massachusetts. The heading above the letter reads, “Garfield’s Infamous Letter Advocating the Increased Immigration of Chinese Cheap Labor.” The letter was apparently published by the New York Truth newspaper on October 22, 1880, just a few days before the election. That letter is also presented in small type on the front page of this piece. The text on the back page states, “No workingman who possesses a vestige of self respect can vote for the author of such a declaration.”

James A. Garfield was born and raised in Ohio. He served as a Republican in the House of Representatives from 1862 to 1880. He took the president’s oath of office on March 4, 1881. He was shot July 2, 1881, and died September 19, 1881.

I have no idea how Dad obtained this cover and contents. He lived in Randolph County, Indiana, about 60 miles west-northwest of Springfield, Ohio. The only thing these two items seem to have in common is President Garfield, but I don’t understand why the newsprint piece would have been included with the advertising piece. The personal letter from 1880 regarding the Chinese labor issue probably became moot with President Garfield’s death. Plus, the letter to the editor of the New York Truth newspaper (back side of the newsprint piece) refers to the letter’s addressee as the “late H. L. Morey.”

Interesting history, but I don’t understand why S. J. Roberts & Co. would send the Chinese laborers political piece along with their advertising.

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pigdoc
07 Jul 2019
11:14:09am
re: 1880s cover without a postmark and containing political contents pertaining to assassinated President James A. Garfield

Vinman may be able to tell you where that killer cancel was used. That would probably help to decode the mystery...
-Paul

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GregAlex
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03 Aug 2019
08:38:12pm
re: 1880s cover without a postmark and containing political contents pertaining to assassinated President James A. Garfield

Quote:

"Republican President Garfield had just died from the wound suffered at the hand of his assassin a few months earlier."



Just an FYI, Garfield's death would be more correctly attributed to incompetent medical care. His wounds would probably not have been life-threatening today. But his physician, who did not subscribe to the new model of sterilization, probed Garfield's wounds bare-handed trying unsuccessfully to retrieve one of the bullets. Garfield died of a massive sepsis infection.

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michael78651
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SOR Auctioneer
04 Aug 2019
10:32:46am
re: 1880s cover without a postmark and containing political contents pertaining to assassinated President James A. Garfield

Garfield died a week prior to the date on the letter, on September 19, 1881. He was shot on July 2, 1881.

An odd historical note is that the assassin was actually planning to carry out the attack a few weeks earlier. However, he had read in the newspaper that Garfield's wife was seriously ill, and the President was distraught over the illness. He delayed the assassination until after Garfield's wife had recovered.

The assassin called himself a "Stalwart" when he surrendered to the police. Here is a link relating to that:

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Stalwart

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keesindy
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04 Aug 2019
10:48:44pm
re: 1880s cover without a postmark and containing political contents pertaining to assassinated President James A. Garfield

I knew nothing about the Garfield administration prior to finding this piece of postal history and contents. The information and knowledge we can gain from a nondescript piece of postal stationery is often surprising. Thanks, all, for sharing additional details of the President Garfield story!

Tom

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