ROBERT FRANCIS RIVES was appointed by President Tyler as secretary of legation in London under Edward Everett when Everett was U.S. minister there. The Rives family papers are held at the University of Virginia. Rives’ estate was estimated at $3 million upon his passing.
Offered here is a superb content ALS, 2 pp, 5 x 8 ¼, NY, Nov. 11, 1884, written seven days after Grover Cleveland was elected president. Rives writes to W.C. Rives, son of William Cabell Rives Jr., expressing his profound bias against Grover Cleveland and the Democrats during the 1884 election. He speaks of reducing Garfield’s plurality, an apparent reference to the remnants of Garfield’s political machine. Garfield had been assassinated three years earlier. Cleveland’s opponent James Blaine alleged that voter fraud prevented him from winning the election.
“I send you extracts from the Tribune & Sun, the Herald & Times of this morning, which I read in the train coming down. [Newspaper clippings are included.] The rogues are falling out with each other; the arch-conspirator & his tools are roosting lower & preparing to flop down, it seems to me. I will try if possible to write you very soon but I am pressed now beyond my strength.
“I had a second political meeting, & made a stump speech. And last Saturday I rode from 7 ½ to past midnight at the head of a procession two miles long. I had a fancy political cap & cape & was mounted on my gentlest horse, but amid the roar of artillery the hissing of rockets the popping of fire crackers & the weird lights of roman candles, every step he took was enough to get over a flour barrel.
“The republican leader afterwards got up a small procession, but his horse pitched him off twice. In our county of Dutchess we reduced Garfield’s plurality by more than 1,500.”
The 1884 presidential election, held on November 4, 1884, in which Democratic Gov. Grover Cleveland of New York defeated Republican James G. Blaine of Maine. Mudslinging and personal allegations eclipsed substantive issues. Cleveland was the first Democrat elected President since James Buchanan in 1856.
The newspaper clippings included with this letter indicate clearly that Blaine was trying to overturn the election.
The letter, along with the cover, is in excellent condition. Postage present with nice postmarks. News clippings have some expected wear but still represent a vital part of the 1884 election history and substantiate the claims made by Rives in the letter.
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