Autograph Letter Signed - Robert James Harlan

By: Harlan, Robert James

Price: $100.00

Quantity: 1 available

Book Condition: Collectible-Fine


Original letter handwritten on beige lined paper in black ink. Robert James Harlan signed the letter as "Yours in haste, Robt. Harlan." Letter is written on stationery of the Office of Special Agent Treasury Department. Datelined February 25, 1892 in Cincinnati, Ohio. 8" x 10." One page, complete. Letter is very clean and intact. There are three horizontal and vertical fold lines, perhaps original. There is slight splitting at either edge of the horizontal fold line. Paper has a few small wrinkles. A Fine copy. This letter is addressed to a judge with the opening line being, "My dear Judge." In this letter, Harlan writes to the unnamed judge about having received his letters and sending him something. Robert James Harlan (1816-1897) was a civil rights activist and politician. Robert was born a slave on a Kentucky plantation to Mary Harlan, who was also a slave. The identity of Robert's father is still disputed but the consensus appears to be that the politician and plantation owner, James Harlan, was his father. James actually had mixed feelings toward slavery which likely factored into the unusual amount of freedom slaves on his plantation had as a whole. Robert was allowed to openly travel, be formally employed, and gain an education, the last of which James did not always offer to slaves. Since Robert's freedom was never finalized under the law at the time, James apparently got into trouble and subsequently went to a courthouse in Frankfort County, KY in 1848 to free him. Robert began his career as a barber and shopkeeper and opened a store in Harrodsburg, KY at the age of 16. Robert later made a fortune by importing, selling, and betting on race horses. Much of Robert's career was based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Beginning in 1870, Robert became a prominent figure in politics when he helped lead an Ohio militia battalion. He eventually became a politician of the Republican Party and was a friend of Ulysses S. Grant and William McKinley. Robert strongly supported civil rights for African Americans and opposed segregated schools as a legislator. He was also appointed as delegate to several National Colored Conventions and Congresses and elected multiple times as delegate or alternate delegate to Republican National Conventions. Under the administration of President Benjamin Harrison, Robert was appointed as special inspector of the U.S. Treasury Department in 1889, which the stationery of the letter refers to. He held this position until 1893 when a new president was elected, Grover Cleveland. Robert may have been the half-brother of John Marshall Harlan, who was the son of James Harlan and Eliza Davenport. John became a Supreme Court Justice and was known for supporting civil rights and liberties in legal cases and giving dissenting opinion on cases in which these rights and liberties were restricted. Notably, John gave the only dissenting opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) which upheld segregation laws. The unnamed judge in this letter may have been John.