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Greeley's Last Letter

A Famous Forgery

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 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

his autograph.



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