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O. O. Howard

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Howard cites the writing of the Apostle John and a hymn as his favorite sentiments

Oliver Otis Howard, 18301909.  Union Major General, American Civil War.  Autographed Letter Signed, O. O. Howard, one page, 4½" x 7", with integral leaf attached, Denver, Colorado, March 29, 1895. 

Howard exhibits his Christianity in response to a student's request for a handwritten sentiment to be included in albums devoted to the handwriting of prominent men and women.  He writes, in full:  “The best sentiment that I know from positive realization is found in the First Epistle of John the Seventh verse.  That coupled with the hymn of Rev. G. Duffield ʻStand up, stand up for Jesus,' constitute my favorite sentiments.  Very truly yours . . . ."  Howard has added his rank, “Maj-Gen. U.S. Army,” below his signature. 

Howard refers to 1 John 1:7, which reads:  "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."  (KJV)

Howard was known as the “Christian general" because he based his decisions on his deep religious piety.  He graduated fourth in his class of 46 cadets from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1854.  It was in Florida, where he was transferred during the Seminole Wars in 1857, that he experienced a conversion to evangelical Christianity.  He thought of leaving the military to become a minister but remained in the Army once the Civil War started.  During the Civil War, he saw action at the Battles of First Bull Run, the Peninsula Campaign, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Chattanooga, in the Atlanta Campaign, and in General William T. Sherman's March to the Sea.  His right arm, wounded twice in battle at Fair Oaks in 1862, was amputated.  In 1893, he received the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery at Fair Oaks.

Howard was also instrumental in the creation of Howard University, which bears his name and where he served as president from 18691874.  He also served as Commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau 1865–1874, was the Superintendent at West Point 18811882, and played a major role in the Indian Wars, particularly against the Nez Perce.

This letter has never been on the market before.  It comes from a large collection of letters, notes, and signatures assembled by a professor of penmanship at the State Normal School at Emporia, Kansas, now Emporia State University, who had his students write to prominent men and women to request a handwritten letter expressing a reminiscence, a favorite sentiment, or a word of advice.

Howard has penned this letter in crisp, black fountain pen.  A book weight photograph of an aging General Howard is tipped inside the integral leaf.  The letter has two normal mailing folds.  There is a collector's pencil notation in the lower left corner, well removed from the handwriting and signature, and mounting traces on the back of the integral leaf.  The piece is in fine to very fine condition.




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