1889 - Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman Sends a Friend an Invitation to a 4th of July Celebration in Denver, Colorado, at Which He Was a Featured Speaker

1889 - Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman Sends a Friend an Invitation to a 4th of July Celebration in Denver, Colorado, at Which He Was a Featured Speaker
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Price: $595.00

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Description: Sherman wrote this letter to his close friend, Margaret Middleton, from his home in New York City at the end of June 1889, shortly before he was featured as a speaker at a large Independence Day celebration in Denver, Colorado. "As I once hoped to have the pleasure of your company to Denver and the Rockies, I send you a sample of the card of invitation which you may consider as addressed to you. This card, illuminated by samples of the natural flowers of Colorado, seems to me very beautiful and appropriate worthy of a place in your scrapbook."

He carries on to tell her the details of their travel plans, from Grand Central Station to Chicago to Denver by train, then writes "I am advised of extensive preparations which will consume three days so I will have full use for my two orators [General Wager] Swayne and [Attorney William Dameron] Guthrie." The event was quite a success, and there are contemporary reports that Sherman's attendance provided 'extraordinary interest and historical significance,' and that his and Guthrie's speeches, especially, were very well received - interrupted with 'great laughter' and 'prolonged applause.' 

Sherman continues in his letter, "After we have done Denver I want to go straight into the Rocky Mountains nearby, but I discover that my comrades want to go on to California. This is not the best season for California and I have been there so often that I will not go, but will enable the others to go on to California and Oregon to return by the Northern Pacific. I and my clerk, Mr. Barrett will probably come back about July 15-20 via St. Louis where I have some business. In all August I may have to go to Cincinnati and Milwaukee therefore can expect no let up till September." He closes with a few remarks about health and weather before signing off, "Affectionately, W.T. Sherman." This autograph letter signed is written on three pages of a sheet of ruled writing paper, measuring approximately 9.25" x 11" when unfolded.

The cardstock invitation Sherman enclosed is still with the letter, and is included here. The front reads "Compliments of The Invitation Committee of the Citizens' Fourth of July Celebration Denver, Col'o, Myron W. Reed, Ch'n, July 4th 1889," and has some small ink leaf and branch decorations in green and brown. While someone else lettered the invitation, Reed signed his name and Chairman title in his own hand. The interior reads "Three Cheers for the Red, White and Blue!" and contains four pressed wildflowers native to Colorado, as Sherman mentioned in his letter. The invitation measures approximately 5.5" x 9" when unfolded.

Also included here is the transmittal envelope - while he did not include a return address for himself, Middleton's name and "Sharon, Connecticut" are written in Sherman's hand. Someone has, fairly neatly, torn the portion of the envelope with the stamps from the upper right, but the black ink cancellations remain on recto and verso. Item #A01128

William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891) served in the US military for a number of years before resigning to spend more than a decade as a banker, businessman, and superintendent of a military academy. He rejoined the military for the US Civil War, becoming one of its most famous generals for leading Union troops across the south in "scorched earth" campaigns. After the War, he continued his military career and was promoted to General of the Army, his troops primarily fighting Native Americans along the wagon trails and railroads. In retirement, he was a constant presence at New York's theatres, lectures, and galleries, and also occasionally thrilled audiences at speaking engagements.

Margaret Lee Middleton (1848-1921) was a Manhattan socialite, who was a skilled and respected genealogist and librarian for many years. She also dedicated a portion of her time to work with charitable organizations. Like Sherman, she was an aficionado of theatre and the arts. Although she was nearly three decades younger than Sherman, the two struck up a close relationship in the 1880s based on their common interests, and often attended events together. It seems they may have been introduced by mutual friend, Mary Thompson Hunt, whose 1884 death brought them closer.

Rev. Myron W. Reed (1836-1899) was a Congregationalist Minister, lawyer, socialist activist, and political candidate. He was wounded while a Captain in the Union Army. In the 1870s and 80s, he preached in Indianapolis, and his congregation included the future President Benjamin Harrison.

William Dameron Guthrie (1859-1935) was a New York City attorney; President of the NYC Bar Association and Professor at Columbia University, he argued several times at the US Supreme Court.

General Wager Swayne (1834-1902) was Colonel in the Union Army, awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Second Battle of Corinth. He was Military Governor and Head of the Freedmen's Bureau in Alabama after the War, and then worked as an attorney in Ohio and New York City.

Condition: The letter has fold lines, otherwise in very condition. The invitation has offsetting on the blank interior page from the ink and the flowers and small chips at the corners, otherwise in very good condition.