Thomas Fitch 1870 Autograph Letter Signed

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AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED, FROM UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE THOMAS FITCH OF NEVADA, REGARDING THE PRINTING OF SPEECHES RELATING TO THE CUBAN INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT.

Washington, D.C. February 21, 1870, 7.75x 5 sheet of stationery of “Forty-First Congress U.S. House of Representatives” with an engraving of the United States Capitol.

A brief note from United States Congressman Thomas Fitch to an unidentified recipient, probably in Philadelphia (judging from the partially effaced address).  Fitch writes:

Dear Sir, The GLOBE office here will furnish Cuban speeches at the rate of $50 for 5000.  There are none now in print.  If directed for distribution here will have them franked.  Yours truly, Thos. Fitch.

Fitch is almost certainly referring to speeches made in the United States Congress in support of the Cuban insurrection against Spanish rule.  The Cuban struggle, which began in 1868 and is commonly known as the “Ten Years War,” was greeted with a mixed reaction in the United States, with several speeches made in the Congress for and against the recognition of Cuban independence.  When he mentions the GLOBE office, Fitch is referring to the printing offices of the CONGRESSIONAL GLOBE, a precursor of today’s CONGRESSIONAL RECORD.

Thomas Fitch (1838-1923) was born in New York City and began in the newspaper trade in Milwaukee.  In 1860 he moved to California where he edited the SAN FRANCISCO TIMES and PLACERVILLE REPUBLICAN.  Fitch studied law and served in the California Assembly in 1862-1863.  He moved to Nevada in June, 1863, and was elected to the convention to create the state constitution in 1864.  Fitch would go on to serve as District Attorney of Washoe County, and in 1868 was elected to the U.S. Congress as a Republican from Nevada, serving one term, from 1869 to 1871.  He eventually moved back to California and practiced law and journalism.

He defended President Brigham Young of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other church leaders when Young and his denomination were prosecuted for polygamy in 1871 and 1872. He also successfully defended Virgil, Morgan, and Wyatt Earp along with Doc Holliday when they were accused of murdering Billy Clanton, and Tom and Frank McLaury during the October 25, 1881 Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

He was a stout Republican and campaigned for Abraham Lincoln across Nevada. He developed a reputation as a capable lawyer and a terrific speaker and was nicknamed the “silver-tongued orator of the Pacific.”  He became friends with Mark Twain who credited him with improving his writing.

He witnessed the laying of the first rail at the western terminus of the Overland Route in Sacramento and the last one at Promontory Point in Utah.  He practiced law, mostly in Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, moving frequently during his life among these states. He also briefly practiced law in Minnesota and New York. According to one obituary he was one of “the three great orators who kept California loyal to the Union during the Civil War”.

A bit of soiling. Recipients name and address effaced from lower left corner of recto. Still, very good. In a quarto-sized blue cloth folding box, gilt spine label.