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TALLAHASSEE, FLA., Jan. 31, 1887. Hon. Harrison Reed, Jacksonville, Fla.:
DEAR SIR--I am engaged in writing up the history of the reconstruction of this State, and as you were the centre of attraction in this theatre, please give me correct information on the following points, which were commonly rumored over the State while you were Governor: Was there any attempt made by Purman, Stearns & Co. to do violence to you while Governor in order to get you out of the way at all hazards? Did you ever overhear any of this gang at any place piotting to put you to death? If so, please state their names and the circumstances. This information will be thankfully received by me.
SOUTH JACKSONVILLE, Feb. 9, 1887. Hon. John Wallace:
DEAR SIR--In reply to the enquiries of your letter of 3151 ult., I regret to say that at various periods during my official term as Governor attempts were made by persons holding Federal offices, by procurement of Senator Osborn, to compel me to surrender my office; but I was not personally cognizant of any intended violence other than that which attended the attempt to forcibly install Lieutenant-Governor Gleason as Gov
On that occasion a conspiracy was formed by Osborn and his military satraps, and the Richards-Billingsfaction, to depose me by violence and take possession of the capitol. This was within a few months after my inauguration, in consequence of my refusal to obey their dictation to "vandalize the State," to quote the expression of Osborn, in my exercise of the appointing power.
It embraced all the prominent Federal office-holders in the State, from the marshal down, most of whom were in the Legislature, subject to orders from Osborn under penalty of removal. This conspiracy was defeated only through the vigilance of Adjutant-General Carse, aided by the faithful and in
corruptible Sheriff Munger, of Leon county, sustained by leading citizens.
On that occasion the capitol was under siege, and for fortysix days and nights was guarded by an armed force of volunteers under General Carse. By way of intimidation signal rockets were sent up during the night from the City Hotel, where the revolutionists had their headquarters, and my boarding-house was frequently disturbed on stormy nights by the firing of guns and pistols in close proximity. These measures not securing the desired effect, a plan was devised to take me from my room by night and secretly dispose of me, while arousing the North by the charge that a Republican Governor had been assassinated by “rebel Ku-Klux;" and this was only frustrated by its discovery to General Carse, to whose vigilance on that occasion I owe my life.
At a later period I was advised by letter of a meeting of three of the conspirators at a room in the City Hotel, at which it was agreed that I should be violently disposed of. Purman was not of the alleged two, but Stearns was, and the other two were Federal office-holders who were conspicuous in the three subsequent attempts at my impeachment which dishonored the Republican name and overthrew the Republican party in the State.
Soon after this alleged meeting at the City Hotel, the notorious Luke Lott, of Calhoun county, appeared in Tallahassee for the avowed purpose to assassinate me, aná was only prevented by my temporary absence, and through the intervention of Governor Bloxham, who learned his mission and persuaded him to abandon it.
I received repeated anonymous threats, and wherever I went on official or private business I was followed by Osborn's spies and emissaries, and on one occasion was arrested in New York at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, on criminal charges framed in Washington, and sworn to by a I had never seen, admitted to be wholly false, for the sole purpose of compelling my confinement to Ludlow Street Jail over Sunday. It was supposed that at that late hour I could not obtain legal assistance, but, fortunately, Lieutenant-Governor
Woodford was found, and immediately successfully interfered in my behalf.
When I assumed the prerogatives of my office, after the dissolution of the court convened for my impeachment, the infamous Lieutenant-Governor Day publicly offered a reward for my head, and, with the approval of a Republican gathering at Jacksonville, threatened to hang me in she Capitol Square if caught in Tallahassee.
Subsequently, when Day was ousted as Lieutenant-Governor by the court and Bloxham declared elected, I received from Washington, marked “Important” and headed Strictly Private," a letter from a prominent representative of Osborn & Stearns' Great Southern Railway Swindle, a letter of which the following is a true copy:
WASHINGTON, D. C., June 2nd., 1872. Hon. H. Reed:
DEAR GOVERNOR—I deem it my duty to put you in possession of some important information I came across this morning when I went to breakfast at the Ebbitt House. I was called one side by a prominent Georgia Democrat with whom I became acquainted two years ago at Atlanta, and whom I served by helping him in a measure he had before Governor Bullock for his approval. This gentleman asked me if I was a friend of Governor Reed, and if I had any interest in you personally? I replied, of course I had, and, as he knew, was largely interested in railroad matters.
He then asked me if I had seen the Press dispatches in the morning paper? I replied I had not yet read the papers, when he called my attention to the dispatch saying Bloxham was sworn in as Lieutenant-Governor. He said he was anxious to put me on my guard and to give me some very valuable information for my own benefit, but I must pledge that I would in no way divulge or in any way let the knowledge out to any other person. I gave him a promise which I do not think I am now breaking by revealing this conversation to you. This man says that certain Georgia, Alabama and Florida Democrats were here and had had a secret caucus, and that it had been determined that Reed should not be in the way of the election this fall, and that Bloxham now being in the succession and
Georgia and Alabama being Democratic, that Florida must be so, even to the sacrifice of Reed, who should be put under the ground if he did not quietly give way to them. He advised me to make friends with Bloxham, and he and Governor Smith would help me through with my road. I asked him if he was in earnest, and he said most emphatically, “By God, old Reed will not be alive three months if he don't surrender. have a chance, and we shall not let it slip - we are bound to have Florida from the Republicans, cost what it may, and the only thing now in the way is Reed.” I put the question to him in half a dozen different ways "how they intended to get control, and he replied each time in the same manner. They now had the State and Reed must bite the dust or surrender. I then asked him to give me the names of the parties in this move, and he replied: “You did me a favor in Atlanta two years ago; I now do you one telling you how to secure your railroad interests in both States, but you ask me more than I will tell when you ask for name
mes.” This is all I could get, and give it to you as I got it, believing, as I do, every word of it. I have done only for you what I believe you would have done for me, and if I have done you a service I shall be glad.
I am, yours very respectfully,
L. Box 183, Washington, D. C.
It would take reams of paper to give you all the details of the conspiracy to subvert the State government to corrupt purposes and involve the State in dishonor for the benefit of an army of “bummers” and political adventurers who fastened upon the Freedman's Bureau to debauch the freedmen for personal aggrandizement. Suffice it that the conspirators were thwarted and, with a few exceptions, have gone hence, leaving the State to their political opponents, who are doing their best to render Republican administration respectable in comparison.
Very truly, your obedient servant,