Very few cases have arisen in this country in which the genuineness of
handwriting was the chief contention, and in which such momentous
interests were at stake, as in the case of the forged "Morey-Garfield
Letter." It was such as to arouse and alarm every citizen of the
republic. A few days prior to the presidential election of 1880, in
which James A. Garfield was the Republican nominee, there was
published in a New York Democratic daily paper, a letter purporting to
have been written to a Mr. H.L. Morey, who was alleged to have been
connected with an organization of the cheap-labor movement. The
letter, if written by Mr. Garfield, committed him in the broadest and
fullest manner to the employment of Chinese cheap labor. It was a
cheap political trick, a rank forgery, and the purpose of the letter
was to arouse the labor vote in close states against Mr. Garfield. It
was also a bungling forgery. We present herewith facsimiles of the
forged letter and one written by Mr. Garfield branding the Morey
letter a fraud.
the MOREY-GARFIELD FORGERY.
LETTER WRITTEN by GARFIELD.
The Morey letter was evidently written by an uneducated man. Here are
three instances of wrong spelling that a man of Mr. Garfield's
education could not possibly make. The words "ecomony" and "Companys"
in the eighth line and "religeously" in the twelfth line give evidence
of a fraudulent and deceitful letter at once.
The misplacing of the dot to the "i" in the signature to the left of
the "f" and over the "r" is a mistake quite natural to a hand
unaccustomed to making it, but a very improbable and remarkable
mistake for one to make in writing his own name. Another noticeable
feature in the Morey letter is the conspicuous variations in the sizes
and forms of the letters. Notice the three "I's" in the fifth line.
Variations so great in such close connection seldom occur in anything
like an educated and practiced hand. The "J" in the signature of the
Morey letter has a slope inconsistent with the remainder of the
signature and the surrounding writing. It is also too angular at the
top and too set and stiff throughout to be the result of a natural
sweep of a trained hand.
The Morey letter was written in January, 1880, and made public in
October of the same year. If Mr. Garfield wrote the Morey letter in
January there was at that time no motive to write it in any other than
his ordinary and natural hand. The letter of denial is in his
perfectly natural hand; these two letters should therefore be
consistent with each other.
The signature of the Morey letter is a clumsy imitation of General
Garfield's autograph. Observe the stiff, formal initial line of the
"_F_"--its sharp, angular turn at the top, absurd slope and general
stiff appearance, while the shade is low down upon the stem, and
compare with the free, flowing movement, round turns and consistent
slope of the same letter in his genuine autograph. We might extend the
comparison, with like result, to all the letters in the signature, and
to a multitude of other instances in the writing of the body of the
Many persons, and some professed experts, have remarked what appeared
to them striking and characteristic resemblances between the Morey
letter and General Garfield's writing.
It should be borne in mind that if the letter is not in the genuine
handwriting of Mr. Garfield it was written by some person whose
purpose was to have it appear so to be. That being the case, we should
naturally expect to find some, even more, _forms_ than we do, having a
resemblance to those used by Mr. Garfield. All these resemblances
appear to be either copied or coincidences in the use of forms. There
are no coincidences of the unconscious writing habit, which clearly,
to our mind, proves the Morey letter, as Mr. Garfield well
characterizes it, a very clumsy effort to imitate his writing. Indeed,
the effort seems to be little more than an endeavor, on the part of
the writer, to disguise his own hand, and copy a few of the general
features of Mr. Garfield's writing, adding a tolerable imitation of