AUTOGRAPH OF OLIVER O. HOWARD

$250.00

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Item Code: 913-74

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Signature in pencil reads, “O.O. HOWARD”. Entirely legible, on sheet of paper that measures 5 ¾” x 6 ¾”. Paper has yellowed with age and shows light smudges, while edges have dark water stains. Signature remains dark, with no fading.

Oliver Otis Howard, born in Leeds, Maine on November 8, 1830, was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the Civil War. As a brigade commander in the Army of the Potomac, Howard lost his right arm while leading his men against Confederate forces at the Battle of Fair Oaks/Seven Pines in June 1862, an action which later earned him the Medal of Honor. As a corps commander, he suffered two humiliating defeats at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg in May and July 1863, but recovered from the setbacks as a successful corps and later army commander in the Western Theater.

Known as the "Christian general" because he tried to base his policy decisions on his deep religious piety, he was given charge of the Freedmen's Bureau in mid-1865, with the mission of integrating the freed slaves into Southern society and politics during the second phase of the Reconstruction Era. Howard took charge of labor policy, setting up a system that required free slaves to work on former plantation land under pay scales fixed by the Bureau, on terms negotiated by the Bureau with white land owners. Howard's Bureau was primarily responsible for the legal affairs of the freedmen. He attempted to protect freed blacks from hostile conditions, but lacked adequate power, and was repeatedly frustrated by President Andrew Johnson. Howard's allies, the Radical Republicans, won control of Congress in the 1866 elections and imposed Radical Reconstruction, with the result that freedmen were given the vote. With the help and advice of the Bureau, freedmen joined Republican coalitions and won at the ballot boxes of most of the southern states. Howard was also a leader in promoting higher education for freedmen, most notably in founding of Howard University in Washington and serving as its president 1867–73. Howard commanded troops in the West, fighting the Apaches in 1872, conducting a famous campaign against the Nez Perce tribe in 1874, the Bannocks and Paiutes in 1878, and against the Sheepeaters in 1879.

Oliver Howard died in Burlington, Vermont on October 26, 1909, and is buried there in Lake View Cemetery. General Howard was a member of the Society of the Cincinnati, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States and the Grand Army of the Republic. A bust of Howard designed by artist James E. Kelly is on display at Howard University. An equestrian statue is on East Cemetery Hill on the Gettysburg Battlefield. A dormitory at Bowdoin College is named for Howard.  [sm]

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