Colored Citizen of Florida Praises Election of E. A. Perry

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2nd Lieutenant
Apr 30, 2012
Jupiter, FL
I came across the accompanying article in January 29, 1885 issue of the Florida Star, a newspaper published in Titusville on the Florida East Coast. The letter purports to me from T. L. McCoy of Keuka, Putnam County, Florida (central Florida, between Palatka and Gainesville), described as "one of the most intelligent colored men in the state." It was addressed to Gov. Edward A. Perry, the former CSA BrigGen (commander of the ANV's Florida Brigade) who had just been inaugurated.

Two notable comments in the letter:

"The mass of colored people, as you no doubt are aware, obeyed the dictates of white Republican carpetbaggers, whose sole purpose was to use their votes as stepping stones to office..."

"I would entreat you to advise your subordinate officers to in every way possible aid them and those who nobly fought to sustain good government and promote the interest of all. Do this and I have no other belief but that in the next general election will find the majority of the colored citizens voting with the Southern people."

A few observations:

1. A quick search of the 1885 Florida State Census lists a Frank McCoy in Putnam County, a Georgia-born black man. "T. L." might be a misreading of his signed initials (a cursive T and F often look similiar).

2. An African-American (or a white faking a letter under the guise of one) refers to "Southern people" as a group exclusive of "colored citizens [of the South]." (Whether "Southerners" should refer only to whites is a recurring topic around here.)

3. Carpetbaggers were still a hot political item in the 1884 election, despite the end date for Reconstruction theoretically being 7 years earlier. Furthermore, Perry's two predecessors as Governor were both also Democrats. At the same time you still had people like William Henry Gleason wheeling and dealing in real estate.

4. Perry was born in Massachusetts, attended Yale, and had lived in the South (Alabama & Florida) for less than a decade before the Civil War started yet becoming a diehard Confederate.

What do you think of this letter?


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