General Fitzhugh Lee, by Harry Warren Readnour, Chapter 4

General Fitzhugh Lee: A Biographical Study


The re-emergence of Fitzhugh Lee into the mainstream of Virginia, Southern, and national life described in the previous chapter was the principal basis for his political career during the late 1870s and early 1880s. Several of his personal characteristics contributed to his participation in public affairs—his gregariousness, his enjoyment of being in the public eye, his sense of duty—but of greater importance were the circumstances which confronted him during the two postwar decades. The feeling of an obligation to serve his nation that had been nurtured in his earlier years was met by his military career. Appomattox, of course, wrenched this method from him while leaving him with a sense of duty to render public service. Eventually he became involved in the political activities of his day. However, his entrance into the political arena and his desire for public office were not manifestations of a yearning for a political career, but rather an alternate method he felt compelled to resort to in order to attain personal satisfaction, prestige, and the gratification of his sense of duty. Lee was never a “politician” in the common usage of the term. Even though he won the highest office in the Commonwealth, he remained politically naive. He disliked the intrigue of party and intra party struggles and ignored the minutiae of politics. While he practiced—on occasion, at least—some excellent political techniques for Virginia during this era, he never seriously compromised his basic allegation that he was a “non-politician” who merely found himself moving in the political sphere. In all his campaigns for public office, neither he nor his contemporaries considered him a professional politician.1 Most of his successes and his failures in politics may be explained by that image.

Lee was slow in escaping the limbo to which Appomattox had supposedly assigned him, especially its political aspect. During Reconstruction, he was proscribed from political activities owing both to his name and to his military record. He disliked the course of Radical Reconstruction at the national level but made his criticisms known only to intimates.2 He took no part in the “restoration” of Virginia to the Union under conservative control in 1869–70, although he agreed with the aims of the Conservative party which was destined to rule Virginia in the post-Reconstruction decade.3 He sympathized with those persons desiring to restore the glory and power of the Old Virginia of pre-war years, yet his contempt for politicians kept him from any wholehearted commitment to political struggles. Instead he had the vague hope that Virginia and the South would be “restored” by a reconciliation between Northern and Southern veterans which would override the politics of sectional animosity. Lee never entirely abandoned this grandiose concept but he was too practical and conventional to remain completely enraptured by it. As his ex-Army comrades became involved in political affairs, it was natural for the conventional Lee to follow them albeit with that occasional dash of flair and audacity that had characterized his military career. In the 1870s he remained attached to the Conservative party at the state level and with the Democratic party at the national level—as did most of the veterans with whom he associated or met at reunions.4

Although Lee was slower than many other Confederate generals to become actively involved in Conservative political affairs, his tardiness was not due to reactionary intransigence or a myopic attempt to ignore the realities of postwar Virginia public life; rather, his late appearance partially resulted from the peculiar combination of circumstances (which were discussed in the previous chapter) confronting him and his family after Appomattox. In the late 1870s, however, various developments caused his interest in the political life of the Old Dominion to quicken. Moreover, his bequest from his godmother in 1874 enabled Lee to take advantage of the new circumstances. When his old friend, General James Lawson Kemper, became governor in 1874, many Virginians felt that “redemption” was complete. Although Lee preferred to discuss other matters, Kemper urged him to become more aware of the political problems confronting Virginians.5 While Lee pleaded before veterans for reconciliation and sought to rebuild Virginia economically during these years, he also found himself being drawn into politics by Kemper and other wartime associates. In 1877 when a new governor was to be elected, the Conservative party was probably at the peak of its strength. A host of candidates for the nomination were offered by various factions and groups, and General Fitzhugh Lee was one of the names put before the convention.

A brief examination of his candidacy for the Conservative nomination in 1877 reveals several typical characteristics of Lee’s participation in politics. He had little interest in the nomination and did not expect to win it, although he agreed to be a candidate and sought some support from a few old friends.6 He did delight in the nature of his support—Confederate veterans throughout the state (who often possessed a political naïveté comparable to his!). At the Conservative state convention in Richmond in August, Fitz Lee was nominated by General William H. Payne, a lawyer from Fauquier. The tone and spirit of his nominating speech exemplified the fundamental appeal that was the basis of Lee’s political career. The wartime service of Fitz and the other Lees (including, of course, Uncle Robert’s) was stressed; in addition, emphasis was given to past achievements of his Lee and Mason ancestors in behalf of the state and nation. Fitz was then lauded for his ability to withstand defeat and adversity—he “has in fact, and not as a figure of speech, beat his sword into a plowshare and yoking his old war horse to the plough with his own hands has opened the furrow.” Payne concluded by telling the delegates that they should nominate General Lee, the farmer-planter, although “I well know your intriguing politicians and smoother courtiers please you best.”7

Virginia was at the beginning of a fierce and momentous political struggle, however, and the Lee candidacy in 1877 was hopeless since the other leading candidates were not only ex-Confederate officers but skilled politicians as well. William Mahone, the dynamic railroad executive from Petersburg, polled 421 votes on the first ballot while John Warwick Daniel and Frederick W. M. Holliday trailed with 351 and 262, respectively. Fitz received only 126 votes and was dropped by the third ballot. When a deadlock between Mahone and Daniel developed, Lee was again brought forth as a compromise candidate but the convention finally selected Holliday.8

The key to the Conservative nomination in 1877 and especially to the tumultuous political developments of the next several years was the problem of Virginia’s public debt. The debt question, which eventually split the Conservative party and incidentally propelled Lee deeper into political affairs, had a long and complicated background.9 In brief, the state assembly had passed a funding bill in 1871, which provided for full payment of two-thirds of the prewar debt (one-third was arbitrarily allocated to West Virginia). During its passage, many Virginians felt that the measure was unfair since bondholders were excused from the consequences of the war’s destruction while other Virginians were compelled to bear the full burden of abnormal times. Those persons favoring the bill, commonly labeled “Funders,” secured its passage on grounds that it would not only preserved Virginia honor but also restore sorely needed public credit.10

Unfortunately, in the next few years state revenues proved insufficient to meet both the debt obligation and the demands for essential governmental services, including public schools. Many Virginians called for some type of readjustment of the debt settlement that would give more consideration to postwar circumstances and their effect on Virginia’s ability to pay prewar debts. These demands increased after severe economic dislocation followed the Panic of 1873 and contributed to the emergence of General Mahone as the central figure in state politics. That Confederate hero had long been a major behind-the-scenes figure in the Conservative party since he needed political influence to execute his scheme of consolidating state railroads under his control. However, the Panic not only ended any chance of success for his railroad venture but also ruined his own line (the Atlantic, Mississippi, and Ohio) as the economic climate made it impossible for him to meet his obligations to the road’s bondholders. Viewing the public debt burden as an important factor in the state’s declining economy, he decided to play a more direct role in politics in an effort to salvage his railroad interest.11 Accordingly, since he was dissatisfied with the state economic environment and fiscal policies for both public and private reasons, he naturally sought to become governor by appealing to others who also believed that a revised debt settlement would alleviate the economic sufferings of Virginians. Mahone was supported by the “readjusters” at the 1877 convention, while the “debt-payers” had split their votes among Daniel, Holliday, Lee, and other candidates. Since only one of the debt-payer candidates (General William Terry) had publicly called for payment to the last dollar, the debt question was not openly debated at the convention. Mahone and his followers, however, finally threw their support to Holliday on the basis that he seemed to be more inclined to readjustment than others.12

After 1877 the haunting debt question became a nightmare for Conservative politicians. Holliday was elected easily with no formal opposition since the almost defunct Republican party, temporarily torn by dissensions and past defeats, refused to nominate a state ticket. However, Virginia was not yet destined to witness a one-party system; rather, the state political scene exploded as two powerful, antagonistic groups appeared. The overt reasons for the solidification of the loose coalitions, irreconcilably opposed to one another, emerged during 1878 and 1879 when the Assembly considered first the Barbour and then the McCulloch bills—both dealt with the by now controversial debt issue. The Barbour bill, designed to guarantee the operation of the general government and the schools no matter what happened to the debt repayment schedule, was the original readjustment measure. It provided that revenues from the fifty-cent general property tax should be allocated in the ratio of fifty per cent, twenty per cent, and thirty per cent, to the general government, public schools, and debt interest, respectively. An added controversial provision stipulated that funds designated for general government and schools be paid in lawful money only; consequently, tax-receivable coupons from the bondholders could not be used for these two funds. Holliday vetoed the measure in February 1878, and the next year the Assembly passed the McCulloch bill with its key provision reducing the rate of interest on Virginia bonds from six to four per cent. The McCulloch Act was accepted by the governor and by many bondholders, especially foreigners frightened by possible repudiation. Despite the fiscal advantage of this measure, it was insufficient to bring relief to state finances since the bonds were left with tax-receivable coupons. Mahone and other Conservatives favoring readjustment met in Richmond in February 1879, in the midst of the debate on the McCulloch measure, and formed the Readjuster party. When the bill finally became law in March, almost half the schools were closing and the Readjusters determined that their case should be presented to voters in the Assembly elections of 1879. The Readjusters believed that the people favored the Barbour bill or even a more forcible debt measure while the Funders or debt-payers (who retained control of the Conservative party) rallied to a defense of the McCulloch Act.13

Fitz Lee maintained his allegiance to the Conservative party. He had remained aloof from the agitated debates on the Barbour and McCulloch measures, but in March 1879, he found himself thrust into the bitter campaign after he urged the people of Stafford County at a public meeting to endorse the McCulloch settlement.14 Lee was not an extreme “Funder” but feared that Readjuster proposals might eventually lead to radical measures repudiating Virginia’s honor as well as her debts. As a traditionalist, he was concerned with the glorious heritage of his native state and enraptured with what Raymond Pulley labeled the “Old Virginia Mystique.”15

General Payne, his friend who had nominated him for governor in 1877, begged Lee to be the Conservative candidate for the House of Delegates from the Stafford-King George district. Fitz at first declined but finally agreed, primarily in order to keep his friends in control of the local party. Since he abhorred the breakup of the Conservative party, the bitterness and intolerance between former allies exhibited in the ensuing campaign made his endeavor a sorrowful affair for him. Lee lauded the great traditions of the Old Dominion in his speeches and the public appearances of this renowned Virginian—a visible incarnation of the Old Order—were well received, but these matters were not germane to the issues of the campaign. The Readjusters chose Duff Green, a small farmer in Stafford County who had been crippled during his service as a Confederate private, as their candidate. He wisely refused to debate with Lee during the canvass despite the offer of very favorable terms for joint appearances. Instead, Green dismissed Lee as just the candidate of local factions connected with the Fredericksburg Conservative political “ring” and aimed his attacks at all “Funder-Conservatives.” The Readjuster nominee, appealing to his fellow small landowners, concentrated on the possible effects a state Conservative victory would have on the public schools and the debt question. Lee eventually declared his staunch support of the public schools and his belief that the McCulloch Act would be their salvation. Aside from the issues, Lee’s canvass was too decorous and indifferent (in late October, at the height of the campaign, he left the district to deliver his famous Chancellorsville speech to a group of Confederate veterans for the first time) for a local contest. The Readjuster candidate defeated him 744 to 572, approximately the same ratio by which Readjusters beat the Conservatives throughout the state (81,000 to 62,000).16 Friends of Duff Green bragged to William Mahone that Fitz had received “his death blow. No one expects the General to recover.”17

Indeed the defeat in 1879 seemed to squelch his political career for Lee had no further direct political role during the years of Readjuster triumph from 1879 to 1883. However, the course of Readjusterism was to be instrumental in his eventual election as governor by 1885. The new Readjuster Assembly first elected Mahone to the United States Senate (to take office in 1881) and then passed the Riddleberger bill to readjust the debt, a measure promptly vetoed by Governor Holliday. The Readjusters soon captured complete control of the state government by not only retaining control of the Assembly but also witnessing their gubernatorial candidate, William E. Cameron, defeat Conservative John W. Daniel. When Mahone entered the Senate, he voted with the Republicans and the patronage of the national Republican administration contributed to Readjuster strength in the elections of 1881.18 In 1882 the Riddleberger bill, embodying the spirit that public debtors should bear a portion of the burdens from the War and Reconstruction, became law and scaled the debt down from about $35 million to $21 million. Interest on the bonds was set at three per cent, and the attached coupons were declared invalid for payment of taxes.19 After disposing of the debt question, the Readjuster-republicans embarked on a general reform program: the schools received increased funds; the poll tax was abolished; general property taxes were reduced while assessed values of corporations were raised; archaic laws dealing with such matters as the whipping post and dueling were also abolished.20

By 1883, however, the coalition directed by Mahone began to disintegrate in part because of its achievements. Some Readjusters disliked the alliance with the national Republican party which had presided over Virginia’s defeat in the War while others resented Mahone’s dominance. Moreover, many whites were disturbed by the Mahone tactic of seeking and gaining Negro support for his coalition. In the 1883 elections of the General Assembly, the Conservatives rallied and sought to profit from this dissatisfaction under their shrewd chairman, John Strode Barbour, a longtime enemy of Mahone in both railroad and political affairs. Barbour devised a superior organization that eventually guaranteed the success of the Conservatives, who renamed themselves the Democratic party. The Democrats accepted the Riddleberger debt settlement, welcomed certain Readjusters into their party, denounced “Mahone bossism,” and stressed the perils of Negro political participation. The outcome of the campaign between the well-organized Conservative Democrats and the incumbent Readjuster-Republicans was finally determined by the white reaction to the race riot in Danville on the eve of the election. The new Democratic party captured two-thirds of the General Assembly on the issues of race and Mahoneism.21

Although Fitzhugh Lee did not participate in the formation and initial triumph of the new party, he was soon associated with it. At the request of John Warwick Daniel and other Democratic politicians, he appeared before voters on behalf of Grover Cleveland in the 1884 presidential campaign.22 At Cleveland’s inauguration in 1885, the Democrats assigned Lee a prominent public role in festivities celebrating the triumph of the first Democratic president in a quarter-century. leading a body of Virginia troops in the inaugural parade, Fitz received a tremendous ovation—even surpassing the one for Cleveland some observers declared—from the crowds lining the streets. Returning to Virginia, he found that many Democrats were clamoring for his nomination as the party’s candidate for governor. Lee thus became engaged in his most important political campaign and the only one in which he would be successful.

Unlike his previous political efforts, Fitzhugh Lee was aided by opportune circumstances in his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in 1885. John S. Barbour, the architect of the 1883 victory, had long called for the entrance of new men into politics. Lee was still considered a political newcomer by most active party workers and, more important, the masses viewed him as a hero–not a politician–who was offering his services to the state. Moreover, since his name was not associated with the leadership of the old Funder-Conservative group, younger men in the party became his most active supporters.23 Barbour, on the other hand, had no desire to see Lee nominated. The party chairman’s friends pointed out that Barbour should be promoted from Congressman to Senator since his work had contributed so greatly to the victories in 1882 and 1884. His candidacy would certainly suffer if Lee were nominated since both men were from Northern Virginia and too many Democrats felt that the higher offices should be apportioned equally among the various sections of the state. John W. Daniel, the defeated Conservative gubernatorial candidate of 1881, also challenged Barbour’s aspirations. Seeing a convenient way to thwart Barbour’s candidacy and seize the Senate seat for himself, Daniel hailed Lee as symbolic of the type of man for which Barbour had pleaded. He asserted that Lee could be considered a “new face” since the General had not been involved in recent state politics and was certainly not a professional politician. Fitz became Daniel’s candidate for the gubernatorial nomination while Lee gave tacit support to Daniel in his quest to secure Mahone’s Senate seat.24 Since the Senate seat would not be filled until after the state general election, the first problem facing the informal alliance was securing Lee’s nomination. Fitz found himself involved with numerous politicians besides Daniel in the months preceding the Democratic convention.25

While Lee and other Democrats were engaged in these pre-convention political maneuvers, the Readjuster-Republican coalition hammered together by Mahone, having formally adopted the Republican label for their group in April, assembled at Richmond on July 15 to nominate its state ticket.26 The group at the convention was neither united nor representative of all Virginia Republicans and former Readjusters. Several old line or “Straightout” Republicans—many of whom had been in the party since the War—even refused to attend the convention. A greater handicap was the dissatisfaction of several Readjusters. A majority of them followed Mahone into the Republican camp, but many who attended the convention were displeased with Mahone’s leadership including Governor Cameron and Harrison H. Riddleberger, the junior United States Senator. Riddleberger delivered a lively speech denouncing Mahoneism and defiantly ridiculed “the machine methods of the Boss.” In a brilliant and soothing reply, Mahone declared his intention of allowing an “open and free” convention, publicly embraced Riddleberger on the speaker’s platform, and brought a semblance of surface unity to the party.27

The convention then adopted a platform which called for a free ballot (abolition of the poll tax), free public schools, economical government, an eight-hour day for public employees, and “enforcement of the Readjuster settlement of the State debt.” Most of the platform was devoted to attacks on the Democrats. The Democrats were accused of reviving the race issue and trying to limit the suffrage through methods utilized by “Mississippi Bourbonism.” It was also asserted that the Funders in the Democratic party accepted the debt settlement only in order to win the 1883 elections.28 Turning to the problem of choosing a gubernatorial candidate, the Republicans rallied for John S. Wise, a young and popular politician who was supported by the Cameron-Riddleberger faction as well as by Mahone. Moreover, since several Republicans felt that General Lee would win the Democratic endorsement, Wise, an ex-Confederate captain and also the scion of an old Virginia family, was hailed as an effective counter ploy to the Democratic Lee. With the Democratic convention two weeks away, the Republicans adjourned with claims that Wise was the “better man” owing to his political and legal experience.29

Though the Republicans maintained that the Democrats would nominate Fitzhugh Lee, many Democrats were not so certain of that outcome. The Richmond Dispatch, the organ of John S. Barbour and his Democratic State Executive Committee, hopefully asserted that there was no leading contender for the nomination.30 The Democratic delegates began to assemble at Richmond two days before the scheduled opening date of their convention, July 29. Many delegates were uncommitted and a host of aspirants vied for votes, especially Phillip McKinney and Charles T. O’Ferrall, the two future governors who would follow Lee, and John E. Massey, the future lieutenant governor. Lee was the only candidate whose followers came “from all sections of the State.” Most of the others were strong in only a particular section or were the favorite of an interest group. Though Lee did not control a majority of the committed delegates, he was the frontrunner.31 His position as the most popular candidate was enhanced by the publicity he had recently received after General Grant’s death on July 23. Fitzhugh Lee, as a well-known Southern general and nephew of Robert, was asked to represent the South at Grant’s funeral. Lee gained front-page coverage when he declared that Grant had actually been a Democrat at heart.32

Despite Lee’s popularity, Chairman Barbour seemed determined to thwart the Lee candidacy although, in early July, he assured Lee “that there would not be any clash between our personal interests.” In spite of this pledge, Lee found only reluctant support from Barbour’s lieutenants.33 Ever the professional, Barbour feared that Lee’s lack of political experience might be a liability for the party in the general election in addition to squelching his senatorial ambition. When the convention opened, the galleries were packed with McKinney supporters in an effort to rally the Lee opponents behind McKinney. Daniel and the Lee adherents had not been inactive, however. In his nominating speech, the youthful Holmes Conrad (the future solicitor general of the United States under Presidents Cleveland and McKinley) emphasized Lee’s wartime services while, in his seconding speech, James Dunlop (a member of the prominent Richmond tobacco family) appealed to the younger delegates by reiterating Barbour’s plea for new faces.34 Since their preliminary count of the delegates showed that Lee had a majority, they clamored for an immediate official ballot. Their booming, bandwagon techniques were too much for the anti-Lee men. Barbour was forced to cease stalling but sarcastically noted that “there’s no use trying to stop a machine like that when it gets to going.”35 Lee received a majority on the first ballot, and the nomination was promptly made unanimous. The convention then attempted to lure as many Readjusters as possible by nominating John Massey, as Albemarle County Baptist minister and formerly an active Readjuster speaker, for lieutenant-governor. After a brief fight, the politically doubtful Southwest was placated with the nomination of Rufus Ayers, a popular lawyer and successful businessman from that section, for attorney-general.36

The Democratic convention then adopted a platform which was strikingly similar to the Republican one. The Democrats again proclaimed their acceptance of the Riddleberger debt settlement, although they did assert that decisions of Federal Republican judges would probably required the state to pass more legislation on the subject.37 The similarities between the two platforms reveal the dearth of overt issues between the two principal political groups in Virginia and show that the essential feature of the campaign was the battle for control of the political future of the Old Dominion. The Democrats were fighting to increase their majority in the legislature, to win the state-wide offices, and eventually to oust Mahone and Riddleberger from the Senate. The Republicans were defending their position and hoping to regain control of the legislature. Connected with this power struggle was the race issue. The Republicans, dependent on Negro votes to keep from being overwhelmed by the Democrats, had to block any restriction of Negro suffrage. The Democrats considered several possibilities whereby the Republican party might be destroyed—they could limit the Negro vote; they could brand the Republican party as the “black party,” or they could win enough Negroes over to the Democratic banner to cause Republican defeat. In the elections of 1885, the Democrats attempted all three schemes.38

The prediction was made that the Virginia gubernatorial campaign of 1885 would be dignified. After all, the two leading candidates were scions of prominent Virginia families, ex-Confederates, and personal friends. The Republicans hoped that there could be joint debates between the heads of the two tickets. Further, they argued that “a joint canvass by Lee and Wise would add both excitement and dignity to the campaign.”39 The Republican hopes, both for a joint canvass and dignified campaign, were to be devastatingly shattered. Both Lee and Wise were skilled orators, but the Republican nominee was also an adept debater famed for his slashing attacks and ravaging repartees. When Chairman Barbour assumed control of the Democratic campaign, he refused to allow Lee to debate Wise. This was only the initial step in a shrewd strategy mapped out by Barbour and the state executive committee. Other Democratic stump speakers could be assigned to dog Wise’s footsteps, but Fitzhugh Lee was to be saved for personal appearances throughout the state.40 Barbour realized that Lee, as a symbol of the “Lost Cause,” would appeal to the many Virginians who were becoming more susceptible to a “cult of the Confederacy” as the horrors of the War receded into the dim past.41 This style of campaigning was of course acceptable to Fitz since it reflected the philosophy of his involvement in politics. Instead of featuring the two nominees in dignified joint appearances, the campaign was distinguished by its ballyhoo and bamboozlement.

Within a week of the adjournment of the convention, Lee was heavily engaged with Democratic leaders in making plans for his speaking engagements. Despite requests from various groups for immediate visits by General Lee, he did not launch his active canvass until the end of August.42 Making his maiden speech in Accomack County on the Eastern Shore, General Lee declared the Democrats had accepted the debt settlement and that the question could not be made a campaign issue. Lee also proclaimed that he was now thoroughly national in sympathy, a supporter of President Grover Cleveland, and an ardent proponent of the industrialization of the South. He further acknowledged that while he loved his state no more than his country, he would not forget his companions in the previous sectional conflict. Finally, to broaden his appeal to the electorate even more, Lee mentioned that he was no politician or professional stumper, but “only a plain farmer, who had given the best years of his life to tilling the soil.”43 While Lee spoke at Accomack, Attorney-General Blair, the Republican seeking re-election, harangued a smaller crowd forty yards away from the Democratic dais. However, following the dictates of Barbour and the state committee, Lee refused to debate Blair.44

John S. Wise had begun his more strenuous canvass earlier than Lee. By September 5, Wise, in a tour of the Southwest region of Virginia, had completed thirty-one speeches and traveled 450 miles on horseback alone. The Democrats by that date were only beginning their campaign and, to counterbalance Wise and the Republicans, they concentrated their initial major effort in the Southwest. Lee reached the Valley of Virginia and spoke at Lexington. Barbour also sent some of his best stumpers, including Massey, Ayers, Daniel, and O’Ferrall, into the area to nullify some of the damage wrought by the Wise whirlwind. While Lee was remaining aloof from debates with Republican candidates, other Democrats were sent to debate with Wise. The State Committee decided to send its best speakers against Wise in the practically all-white counties. Accordingly, Charles T. O’Ferrall met Wise at Grayson County Courthouse on September 7 for a “joint discussion.”45 In his memoirs, O’Ferrall vividly described his discussion with “the brilliant and dashing Republican gubernatorial candidate . . . as the hardest fight of my political life.” Though Wise had been campaigning daily for weeks, he successfully parried O’Farrall for four hours in boiling heat until both men were forced to retire to the hotel “as wet as wharf rats.”46 While O’Ferrall was confronting Wise, John W. Daniel had joined Lee and was proudly introducing him to audiences as “the gallant soldier and farmer.”47

The Lee candidacy was given a tremendous boost when a novel tactic was seized upon in early September. At the first few public appearances of General Lee, some of his war comrades and other ex-Confederates who ardently supported him heralded his approach with the blast of a cavalry bugle. On September 10, at the famous Natural Bridge, his champions grasped a new method of campaigning. A large body of mounted men passed in review before the former cavalry leader. Then the column, with Lee on a prancing horse at its head, rode to Lexington. The mounted procession, promptly designated the “Fitz Lee Cavalry,” aroused tremendous excitement on the part of both participants and on-lookers. Lee, though bulky and middle-aged, still sat well on a horse and “looked every inch a soldier.”48 The mounted cavalcade was a Godsend to Lee—it allowed him to exhibit his horsemanship while giving zest, sparkle, and interest to his candidacy. It no longer mattered what he said on the Platform—the people wanted to see a hero, a nephew of Marse Robert, and, most of all, a colorful parade. Such colorful columns had not been seen in Virginia for twenty years and provided Lee with the perfect setting to pose as the living symbol of the vanquished Confederacy.

While Lee was attaining his proper campaign stride, his opponent was seeking a method to counterbalance Lee’s popular appeal. After the Conventions, Wise and other Republicans had flatly asserted that everything good in the Democratic platform was “an ingenious copy of the Republican platform.” They especially ridiculed the Democratic worry that Federal court decisions on the debt settlement might trample on “state rights” and made intemperate charges that the Democrats would destroy the debt settlement.49 These Republican actions left Lee unruffled, and Wise—unlike Duff Green in 1877—began making accusations against Lee personally. In one of his most significant Southwestern speeches on September 7, Wise maintained Lee was the Democratic candidate only because he was “the nephew of his uncle” and cleverly compared Robert E. Lee with Napoleon and Fitz with Louis Napoleon.50 The Washington National Republican, which had begun to blanket Virginia with extra editions for the duration of the campaign, adopted the course set by Wise. Typical of its attacks on Lee is the following poem signed with only the initials ”F.L.”:

Look at me!
Don’t you see
I’m a Lee
I’m the nephew of my uncle, Robert E.,
And my uncle, Robert E., left to me
And I claim
His great name
And his fame.

A glorious thing it is to be
Nephew of such a man as he,
I would not swap my pedigree
For any man’s ancestral tree.

As through the rural towns I ride,
My spirit swells with noble pride,
I sometimes fear ’twill burst my hide,
And scatter round the countryside.

Oh! ’tis a glorious thing to be
A nephew of great Robert Lee.51

Demonstrating both his audacity and his courage, Wise himself continued to taunt General Lee throughout the campaign, making good copy for all newspapers covering the campaign. By the first of October, the Republican standard bearer—whether because he was worn out from the strenuous campaign, had simply despaired of victory, or just exercised bad judgement—began to lose some of his sarcastic skill and satirical wit. His speeches took on an increasingly embittered tone, and his exaggerated denunciations of Lee exhibited a poor taste that grated on the senses of many Virginians.52

In contrast, Fitz Lee serenely continued his canvass of the state. The Lee cavalry and brass bands heralded his approach to the various barbecues, receptions, and parades. His speeches became increasingly unrelated to the current issues being debated by other Democratic and Republican speakers. Crowds loved his reminiscences about the War while Lee also reminded them that he had shared a common experience of many post-bellum Virginians when he farmed during Reconstruction: “I had been accustomed all my life to draw corn from the quartermaster, and found it rather hard now to draw it from an obstinate soil, but I did it!53 It was unnecessary for him to engage in vociferous attacks on the Republicans; rather, posing as the candidate who would end sectional strife and bring good-will between Negro and white, he took an almost non-partisan stance and declared, “I never wrote a political speech in my life.”54 Confederate veterans who deserted the Republicans for Lee were given great praise and wise publicity by the Democratic press, and speculations appeared that Lee would receive even a large vote from the normally Republican Negroes.55 Thus, with the prospects of victory seeming very bright, the cavalcades, parades, and barbecues continued.

On October 1 an incident revealed the disintegration of the campaign into a bitter polemical encounter. Before an audience in Alexandria, where Lee had been living since 1883, Wise made several disparaging and derogatory remarks about his opponent to the crowd filled with Lee’s friends. He gleefully noted that in the West Point class of 1856, Lee had stood number 45 out of 48. Further, he had 169 demerits—more than any other general in his class. Lee’s style of campaigning was ridiculed, and Wise claimed that the cavalcades were made up of boys and colored Republicans. Wise also emphasized that the Democrats, when asked why they supported the Democracy, had only one standard answer—“By God, I’m a white man.” Finally, Wise asserted that the Democrats who nominated Lee “boldly proclaimed that they did not care whether he was popular or not; they had the machinery in their hands, and would count him in.” At this point, “pandemonium reigned supreme” as the friends of Lee gave vent to their rage. “Yells, shouts, hootings, cat-calls, and every sound or act that could contribute to swell the disorder was indulged in.” Wise was compelled to cease speaking. After his speech was disrupted, Wise left town immediately to campaign in Culpeper.56 After the so-called “Alexandria Affair,” many Democratic speakers increasingly matched the intemperance of Republican orators. They especially reiterated that the Republicans were the “black party”—the winning strategy they had used in 1883. In turn, the Republicans attempted to hedge on the racial issue while stressing Readjuster-Republican achievements since 1879.57 In addition, both parties redoubled their attacks on the personal character of their opponents’ gubernatorial candidates.

General Lee was subjected to intensified invective in the next few weeks. Republicans taunted Democrats for sheltering him from debates while noting that the “Fitzhugh Lee Democracy” had no qualms about heckling Republican speakers. He was also widely ridiculed for riding at the head of cavalcades in which a saddle, purporting to have belonged to Robert E. Lee, was prominently displayed.58 Maintaining that Lee’s claim for the governorship was based solely on his lineage, the National Republican began to delete Lee’s name and insert the term “Uncle Robert’s saddle” in campaign stories. In one typical facetious article, his movements were reported as follows:

At precisely 2 o’clock this morning “Uncle Robert’s saddle,” in a good state of preservation, reached the Southwest border of the Old Dominion. . . . “Uncle Robert’s saddle” is billed for a flank movement into the mountains where it will come to a halt and the rider will make a speech. But why speak when mute eloquence of that saddle is irresistibly moving the masses?59

While there was continued mention of atrocities committed by the Democrats, such as the kidnapping of a Republican speaker, the Republicans increased their ridicule of Lee and his uncle’s saddle. “If Fitz Lee and Uncle Robert’s saddle were to take different routes and hold separate meetings, it is honestly believed that the latter would draw larger audiences than the former.” The Republicans suggested that many persons would vote for Fitz Lee thinking that they were voting for Robert E. Lee. One article noted that while the people of Rome had elected a horse as consul, Virginians might elect a saddle as governor.60

Despite the extensive criticism of his campaign tactics, Fitz Lee probably benefited from the Republican attacks. In late October, he slyly noted, “This ridicule of me does not belittle me, I have never yet seen the day when I was ashamed of being the nephew of Robert E. Lee.”61 However, Lee no longer discouraged other Democrats from jeering and heckling Wise. His official campaign biography, which was published in the middle of the campaign, even contained a poem taunting Wise:

Our opponent is sad, boys,
And heaveth heavy sighs;
He has a doubt, as well he may,
As who shall get the prize.
One thing he may be sure of,
Let him wipe his weeping eyes,
Our chief will be a wise one,
But will not be one WISE.62

In the closing days of the campaign, Lee finally attacked Wise personally. He asserted that Wise’s father would be ashamed of the son’s actions in the campaign. Perhaps the most discourteous attack made by Lee was his insinuation that Wise had been a horse-thief in the closing days of the War.63 Nonetheless, Lee generally exhibited restraint in deriding Wise.

In the two weeks prior to the election, Southern chauvinism became more pronounced—which, of course, enhanced the Lee candidacy. Throughout the campaign, Northern Republican leaders had been interested in the Virginia elections. The seats of the two Republican Senators would be lost eventually if the Democrats won control of the state government. Further, it was widely believed that if Virginia went Democratic, the question “Shall the solid south be kept in its Democratic solidity?” would be answered in the affirmative. Accordingly, several famous Northern Republicans came to Virginia to speak for the state ticket. Unfortunately for the Virginia Republicans, these speakers only added to the bitterness of the campaign. The most active speaker, Senator John Sherman of Ohio, was cordially hated by many Virginians.64 General John A. Logan and Judge J. B. Foraker, governor-elect of Ohio, also came fresh from a hard fought Ohio campaign, in which they waved the “bloody shirt” to a considerable degree. Their Ohio action was defended by Foraker in a speech in New York, which was duly reported in Virginia. Perhaps equally damaging, General Logan rashly referred to Robert Lee’s saddle as “treason stained”—enabling Fitz to promptly reply: “Robert E. Lee, if he were alive, would vote the Democratic ticket.”65 Wise, Mahone, and other Republicans failed to disassociate themselves from Logan’s statement, and the Democrats adopted the rallying cry, “Remember the days of the carpetbaggers and vote for LEE.”66

The last days of the contest were characterized by some of the most vehement utterances of the entire campaign. John S. Wise, who had traveled over 10,000 miles during the canvass, was “thoroughly worn out” but accompanied Senator Sherman and tried to answer hecklers blow for blow. Eventually, even his most active newspaper supporter was forced to apologize that Wize was often “betrayed into expressions regarding his political opponents that he probably would not have indulged in, but for the strain under which he was speaking.”67 Sherman, although he spoke with some degree of truth, did nothing to allay the damage when he pointed out that “General Lee . . . has conducted his canvass almost entirely upon the basis of an appeal to the Confederate soldiers, to the pride of Virginia. . . . and with military trappings, flags, and cavalcades he tries to turn the attention of your people from the questions of the present time.”68 Such attacks helped, rather than hurt, the Democrats. First, they gave Lee a chance to note that he had returned to Virginia in 1861 as soon as “I heard the voice of my mother Commonwealth to come to her defense.” Moreover, he could reiterate his position that he and other Virginia Democrats were now loyal to the Union without fear of losing any votes—for example, he maintained that U.S. flags, not rebel ones, were carried in his cavalcades. At the same time, he criticized Northern Republicans for waving the bloody shirt while reviewing his own work for restoration of harmony between all sections of the nation.69

During the week prior to the election, the now confident Lee spent much of his time in the more pleasant traditional political activities, such as “gallantly” kissing “fifteen beautiful little maidens” and attending sumptuous barbecues where “roasts of beef, lamb, pig, turkey, chickens, and oysters, ad libitum refreshed the great crowd during the speaking.” Chairman Barbour, however, exhibited enough concern to undertake as many precautions as possible. In an open letter, he warned Virginia Democrats to continue their work until the day of the election. He feared that Sherman’s appeals might bring many Negro voters to the polls. Further, he warned that “we cannot now afford to have our hard-won supremacy snatched from our hands by illegal and improper methods.” This latter statement resulted from the discovery of “fake” electoral tickets with the names of Lee, Massey, and Ayers at the top but with those of Republican legislative candidates at the bottom.70

Since the election machinery was generally in Democratic hands, the Republicans were even more concerned with possible electoral corruption. Throughout the campaign Mahone issued warnings that precautionary measures must be taken to insure a proper count on election day. In public letters and in a detailed pamphlet, he described the methods whereby the Democrats might cheat. The Republicans were especially concerned about losing he Negro vote. Mahone argued that the Anderson-McCormick election law of 1884, passed by the Democratic Assembly, was designed to rob the Republicans of the colored vote since it provided that local election boards were to be selected by a majority vote of the legislature. Accordingly, local Republican officials were ordered to send two white Republicans to each polling-place in the counties with many Negro voters. It was hoped that these white Republicans could thwart the expected attempts of the Democrats to defraud the Negro voters.71

The election on November 3 was a great victory for the Democrats. The gubernatorial contest was fairly close although Lee beat Wise by 16,000 votes out of a total of 290,000 cast. Massey and Ayres, though they received fewer votes than Lee, were also elected. However, the Republicans experienced overwhelming defeat in the legislative contests, since the Democrats won seventeen of the twenty-one contested Senate seats as well as a two-thirds majority in the House of Delegates.72 The Republicans cried fraud and pointed out that Lee had run better in some heavily black counties than he had in white sections. They asserted that the Democrats obviously stole the colored vote from them. Although this accusation probably has some validity, it should not be overlooked that some Negro voters willingly deserted the Republican party. Not only was the national government in Democratic hands, but Virginia Democrats also made a decided effort to win some Negro voters by both cajolery and threats.73 In any case Lee’s victory was hailed by his fellow Democrats as a justly won victory and most Republicans accepted the result without serious protest as to the election’s legality. His most enthusiastic supporters went further and claimed that the Lee triumph was a second “redemption” which would inaugurate a new era in Virginia. Lee, successful at last in politics, was ready to begin the new adventure of being head of the Commonwealth.


1 This chapter encompasses only Lee’s political activities until 1886. His tenure as governor is discussed in Chapter V and his campaign for the U.S. Senate is examined in Chapter VI.

2 For example see Lee to M. M. Kimmel, October 1, 1867 and to Nannie Enders, February 18, 1869, Opie Papers.

3 The political development of the Reconstruction and Redemption periods may be found in Richard G. Lowe, “Republicans, Rebellion, and Reconstruction: The Republican Party in Virginia, 1856–1870” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Virginia, 1968), esp. 311–362, and Jack P. Maddex, Jr., The Virginia Conservatives, 1869–1879: A Study in Reconstruction Politics (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1970), 46–120. For an analysis of the interaction of political, social and economic factors, consult James D. Smith, “Virginia during Reconstruction, 1865–1870: A Political, Economic and Social Study” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Virginia, 1960).

4 For a broader discussion of the Conservative veterans in politics, see Maddex, The Virginia Conservatives, 101, 248–249, 287–292.

5 Kemper to Lee, November 27, 1873, and November 4, 1875, Opie Papers. Kemper had less respect for some other Confederate veterans, such as the outspoken General Jubal Early. The political activities of the Conservatives and Kemper during his gubernatorial term are amply discussed in Robert R. Jones, “Conservative Virginian: The Post-War Career of Governor James Lawson Kemper” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Virginia, 1964).

6 Lee to Caskie Cabell, June 5, 1877, Opie Papers.

7 Richmond State, Aug. 17, 1877; see also Elizabeth Watkins Lyons, “Scrapbook, 1871–1897,” Virginia Historical Society, 94–95.

8 Robert C. Glass and Carter Glass, Jr., Virginia Democracy: A History of the Achievements of the Party and Its Leaders (Springfield, Ill., 1937), I, 226–228; Nelson M. Blake, William Mahone of Virginia: Soldier and Political Insurgent (Richmond, 1935), 151–153.

9 The history of the debt controversy can only be briefly summarized in this biographical study. The standard account is found in Charles C. Pearson, The Readjuster Movement in Virginia (New Haven, 1917). For a recent study which partially supersedes Pearson on the political movement triggered by the debt problem, consult James T. Moore, “To Carry Africa into the War: The Readjuster Movement and the Negro,” (M.A. thesis, University of Virginia, 1968). For a proper understanding of the Virginia political environment of Lee after 1870, two excellent works are available: Allen W. Moger, Virginia: Bourbonism to Byrd, 1870–1925 (Charlottesville, 1968), and Raymond H. Pulley, Old Virginia restored: An Interpretation of the Progressive Impulse, 1870–1930 (Charlottesville, 1968).

10 Virginia’s first post-Reconstruction or “Redeemer” legislature simultaneously passed a law providing for the sale of state-owned railroads—the state’s participation in railroad construction had been the principal reason for Virginia’s huge prewar debt. The railroads, temporarily short of capital, were an added strain on the state’s financial resources of the moment but nonetheless a potential source of revenue. The activities of the General Assembly of 1869–1871 are thoroughly examined in Robert M. Ours, “Virginia’s First Redeemer Legislature, 1869–1871;,” (M.A. thesis, University of Virginia, 1966).

11 Blake, Mahone, 132–133, 147; John F. Stover, The Railroads of the South, 1865–1900; A Study in Finance and Control (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1955), 138–139.

12 Blake, Mahone, 150–155, 163–170; Glass, Virginia Democracy, 227–228; Richmond Dispatch, July 10 and 31, 1877. For a detailed account of Holliday’s nomination and service as governor, consult Julian Porter, “Frederick William Mackey Holliday, Governor of Virginia, 1878–1881” (M.A. thesis, University of Virginia, 1969).

13 Howson W. Cole, III, “Harrison Holt Riddleberger, Readjuster,” (M.A. thesis, University of Virginia, 1952), 50–51; Moger, Virginia, 33–37; Pearson, Readjuster Movement, 78–102. For discussions of the various measures to solve the debt problem, see Reginald C. McGrane, Foreign Bondholders and American State Debts (New York, 1935), 364–381, and Benjamin U. Ratchford, American State Debts (Durham, N.C., 1941), 197–229.

14 “General Fitzhugh Lee, Bourbon-Funder Candidate for Governor,” Broadside, 1885.

15 Pulley, Old Virginia Restored, 1–23.

16 An excellent account of the Lee-Green campaign was published in a Supplement to the Fredericksburg (Va.) Star, Oct. 18, 1879 (A copy is found in the Governor Fitzhugh Lee Executive Papers, Virginia State Library); see also Pearson, Readjuster Movement, 77, 118–131, and Chataigne, Virginia Gazetteer, 1880–81, 485. Duff Green subsequently served in three sessions of the Assembly (1879–1884). Earl G. Swem and John W. Williams, A Register of the General Assembly of Virginia, 1776–1918, and of the Constitutional Conventions (Richmond, 1918), 201–205.

17 J. Critcher to Mahone, Dec. 1, 1879, William A. Mahone Papers, Duke University Library.

18 Blake, Mahone, 196–219; Pearson, Readjuster Movement, 132–159.

19 The various provisions of the Riddleberger Debt Act and their effect on governmental operations are discussed in greater detail in Chapter V. Their debt settlement caused the Readjusters to be labeled “repudiators” by some; see John W. Johnston, “Repudiation in Virginia,” North American Review, CXXXIV (Feb., 1882), 149–160.

20 A brief summary of Readjuster reforms is found in Moore, “The Readjuster Movement and the Negro,” 21–38, and Moger, Virginia, 47–49.

21 Moger, Virginia, 51–52; Moore, “The Readjuster Movement and the Negro,” 39 ff.; Charles E. Wynes, Race Relations in Virginia, 1870–1902 (Charlottesville, 1961), 29–34; see also, William Mahone, “Address of the Readjuster State Executive Committee,” Broadside, 1883. For analysis of the Danville riot and its effect on Virginia political affairs, consult John T. S. Melzer, “The Danville Riot, November 3, 1883” (M.A. thesis, University of Virginia, 1963), and William C. Tate, Jr., “The Danville Riot of 1883: Its Effect on Politics in Virginia” (M.A. thesis, University of Richmond, 1868).

22 John W. Daniel to Lee, Nov. 10 and Nov. 12, 1884, Opie Papers. His Northern friends, along with Lee, hoped that “sectionalism may be wiped out” by Cleveland; see Thomas F. Bayard to Lee, Jan. 25, 1885, ibid.

23 New York Times, July 29, 30, and 31, 1885. Lee was supported by numerous younger delegates who were not fulltime politicians or who had become involved only recently in politics. For example, Holmes Conrad of Winchester and James Dunlop of Richmond (the young men who made the nominating and seconding speeches, respectively, for Lee) had each served one term in the legislature. In contrast, General Lee also drew major support from the older Confederate veterans such as Generals William H. Payne and B. B. Munford. Although both the latter had served in the General Assembly, neither were career politicians. Consult Swem and Williams, A Register of the General Assembly, 200–207. Nonetheless, the Republicans attempted to cast Lee as the candidate of, and a principal leader in, the old Funder group; see “Lee, Bourbon-Funder Candidate,” 1–3.

24 Richmond Dispatch, July 1, 1885; Hamilton J. Eckenrode, “History of Virginia since 1865; 1865–1945: A Political History,” unpublished manuscript in University of Virginia Library, 196; Richard B. Doss, “John Warwick Daniel: A Study in the Virginia Democracy” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Virginia, 1955), 87–88. Thomas Staples martin, Lee’s nemesis in the 1893 Senatorial election, actively supported Daniel’s scheme and thus, ironically, contributed to Lee’s only political victory.

25 Lee to Archer Anderson, July 2, 1885, and Anderson to Lee, July 4, 1885, Archer Anderson Papers, Virginia Historical Society.

26 Richmond Dispatch, July 15, 1885.

27 Ibid., July 3, 14, 15, 16, 1885; Washington National Republican, July 17, 1885; Cole, “Riddleberger,” 102–104, 110–112.

28 “Platform and Address of the Republican Party of Virginia, adopted July 15, 1885,” Broadside, 1885.

29 Washington National Republican, July 15, 17, 20, 28, 1885. The Republicans chose H. Clinton Wood, a former president pro tempore of the state, for lieutenant governor and incumbent Frank Blair was re-nominated for attorney-general. Wise, the son of pre-Civil War Governor Henry A. Wise, had been active in politics since “redemption” and was worried about the shaky Mahone coalition. See John J. H. Wise to John S. Wise, April 16, 1885, John S. Wise Papers, at the home of his grandson John S. Wise, Farmington, Va. For a brief biographical sketch of Wise see Curtis C. Davis, “Very Well-Rounded Republican: The Several Lives of John S. Wise,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, LXXI, No. 4 (October, 1963), 461–487.

30 July 29, 1885.

31 Ibid., July 28, 29, 1885; see also New York Times July 30, 1885. If the avowed candidates had not won by the second ballot, it was speculated that Barbour would be the compromise nominee.

32 Richmond Dispatch, July 24, 1885. His appearance in the pageant especially encouraged Lee supporters with a martial background. Lee appealed not only to veterans but also current members of the Virginia militia and their friends and relatives, see Lee to “The Soldiers of the First Brigade, Virginia Volunteers,” March 13, 1885, Brock Papers, Huntington Library.

33 Lee to Archer Anderson, July 3 and 4, 1885, and Anderson to Lee, July 4, 1885, Archer Anderson Papers, Virginia Historical Society.

34 “Speech on the Nomination of Fitzhugh Lee as Governor of Virginia,” James H. Dunlop Papers in the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill. Biographical information concerning Conrad and Dunlop is found in Philip A. Bruce, et. al., History of Virginia (Chicago and New York, 1924), IV, 379, and V, 95–97. For McKinney’s role in the 1885 convention and his subsequent career, consult Bernice Zuckerman, “Phillip Watkins McKinney, Governor of Virginia, 1890–1894” (M.A. thesis, University of Virginia, 1967).

35 New York Times, July 30, 1885.

36 Richmond Dispatch, July 31, 1885.

37 The complete party platform was published in the Dispatch on July 31. Throughout the campaign the Democrats usually attempted to ignore the debt controversy. However, Frank G. Ruffin defended the party’s past stand on that issue in his 64-page partisan pamphlet entitled “Facts, Thoughts and Conclusions in Regard to the Public Debt of Virginia” (Richmond, 1885).

38 John S. Wise, The Lion’s Skin (New York, 1905), 358–361; see also Richard L. Morton, The Negro in Virginia Politics, 1865–1902 (Charlottesville, 1919), 118–126, and Wynes, Race Relations, 39–50.

39 Washington National Republican, July 29, 1885; Davis, “Very Well-Rounded Repoublican,” 476.

40 Eckenrode, “History of Virginia,” p. 201; see also Richmond Dispatch, August 5 and 6. The Democrats justified their decision on the grounds that most Republicans were Negroes and that it would be unfair to permit Republican candidates to address white Democrats. See Wise, The Lion’s Skin, 363–364.

41 The Confederate “cult”—a glorification of all things associated with the Confederacy—received its greatest impetus when John W. Daniel spoke at the unveiling of the recumbent statue of Robert E. Lee at Lexington in 1883; see Doss, “John Warwick Daniel,” 67–68. It was often synonymous with the Old Virginia “mystique.”

42 Lee to J. M. Dalzell, Aug. 8, 1885, Atcheson L. Hench Collection of Papers, University of Virginia Library.

43 Richmond Dispatch, September 1 and 2, 1885. Perhaps Lee was guilty of an overstatement when he used the term “plain farmer” but his friend, John Esten Cooke, noted that Fitz had great appeal for farmers; undated article in James E. Cooke Manuscript Collection, Library of Congress.

44 The Democrats went to great lengths to keep Republican speakers from debating with Lee. For example, the Democrats moved their speaker’s platform twice because Blair tried to get within speaking distance of Lee.

45 Richmond Dispatch, September 5 and 8, 1885.

46 Charles T. O’Ferrall, Forty Years of Active Service (New York and Washington, 1904), pp. 225–226.

47 Richmond Dispatch, September 9, 1885. Daniel and Lee were the two most popular members of the Virginia Democracy during this period, and their joint appearances always drew large crowds.

48 Ibid., September 10 and 11, 1885.

49 Washington National Republican, July 31, August 1, 1885; William A. Mahone, “Virginia and Her Debt.” Broadside, 1885.

50 Richmond Dispatch, September 8, 1885.

51 The poem appeared in its September 23 edition and was followed by similar ones in subsequent editions.

52 The problems and worries Wise had were later revealed in his book, The Lion’s Skin, 358–367; see also he letters of his cousin, John James Wise, to him on April 16, August 3, and December 21, 1885, John S. Wise Papers, Farmington.

53 John Williams Jones, Virginia’s Next Governor, General Fitzhugh Lee (New York, 1885), p. 19.

54 Richmond Dispatch, September 16, 1885; Lee’s speeches seldom varied no matter where he spoke; see his “Speech Gubernatorial Campaign,” manuscript, Lee Executive Papers, Virginia State Library.

55 For example, see Roanoke Leader, September 12 and 26, 1885.

56 Washington National Republican, October 2, 1885. Lee had long been well-known to Alexandria, although he did not buy a home and farm there until the 1880s. Roanoke Leader October 3, 1885.

57 In his speeches in he heavily white counties, Wise compromised himself with some Negro voters. He denied their political maturity and emphatically noted his belief in segregation; see Richmond Dispatch, September 8 and October 11, 1885. The Republicans made a sincere effort to defend the record of officials elected by their party, but it was insufficient to win many votes; see “Republican Domination. What It Has Done For Virginia. A Brilliant Record!” Broadside, 1885.

58 Washington National Republican, September 23, 1885. Fitz later explained that since he used different horses and saddles at each cavalcade, “I never knew it” if any saddle was his uncle’s. Lee to E. A. Zuck, December 2, 1885, R. E. Lee Papers, Washington and Lee University Library, quoted in Moger, Virginia, 60.

59 Washington National Republican, October 13, 1885.

60 Ibid., October 20 and 29, 1885.

61 Richmond Dispatch, October 25, 1885.

62 Jones, Virginia’s Next Governor, 31. This brief biographical sketch lauded Fitz but mentioned his opponent only briefly. In contrast, the Republican tract, “Lee, Bourbon-Funder Candidate,” was harshly critical of Lee and attempted to portray him as the most vehement Funder in the state.

63 Richmond Dispatch, September 16 and November 3, 1885.

64 Washington National Republican, October 29, 1885; John Sherman, Recollections of Forty Years in the House, Senate and Cabinet: An Autobiography (Chicago, 1895), II, 933–935. The Senator was disliked not only for his criticisms of post-Reconstruction Southern politics but also because of the wartime activities of his brother, General William T. Sherman.

65 Richmond Dispatch, October 25, and see also October 18 and 22, 1885.

66 Ibid., October 27, 1885. Lee, shortly after the election and perhaps still caught in the heat of the contest, compared the Mahone Republicans with the “old carpet-bag organizations” Roanoke Leader, November 14, 1885.

67 Washington National Republican, November 2, 1885.

68 Ibid., October 25, 1885.

69 Richmond Dispatch, October 25 and November 3, 1885.

70 Ibid., October 27, 30, 31, 1885. Wise was accused of ordering the fake tickets, but Senator Mahone was the person who would gain from the tactic since the new Assembly would elect a Senator.

71 New York Times, July 30, 1885; Richmond Dispatch, October 2, 1885; William Mahone, “The Election Laws, and Instructions as to Voting and Election returns,” Broadside, 1885; for a discussion of the Anderson-McCormick law see Wynes, Race Relations in Virginia, 39–42.

72 Journal of the House of Delegates of the State of Virginia for the Session of 1885–1886 (Richmond, 1885), 21; Richmond Dispatch, November 5 and 6, 1885.

73 Wise felt he had been robbed of victory; see his The Lion’s Skin, 366–367, and also Jennings C. Wise to N. M. Blake, July 17, 1930, quoted in Blake, Mahone, 232. However, Charles Wynes points out that by 1885 a growing number of Negroes, either in despair or out of a desire for accommodation, were voting with the Democrats; see his Race Relations, 42.

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