Craven County Digital History Exhibit

A Card, To the Republicans of Craven County, 1876

Title: A Card, To the Republicans of Craven County

Creator: James C. Harrison

Subject: Republican Party (N.C.)
              Craven County (N.C.)--Politics and government
              Craven County (N.C.)--History--1865-

Description: Broadside written by James C. Harrison, Republican Register of Deeds, defending himself against attacks from members of his own party.

Publisher: Harrison

Date: July 22, 1876

Type: Text

Format: 1 page.

Identifier: James C. Harrison Papers (#25)

Source: Donation.

Coverage: Craven County, N.C.

Rights: Permission to use this item must be obtained from the New Bern-Craven County Public Library, 400 Johnson Street, New Bern, NC 28560.

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To the Republicans of Craven County--

             Previous to, and at the time of holding the Republican County Nominating Convention of Craven County, which was held in New-Berne on the 6th inst., false charges were preferred against me by some unprincipled men of our party, which caused considerable opposition to me as a candidate for re-nomination to the office of Register of Deeds, and which induced many of the delegates to that Convention to vote against me.  At the time of the  Convention, and two or three days before, I was sick, confined at home, and was, therefore, unable to attend the Convention and refute the malicious charges circulated against me.  This card is not intended as an arraignment of those who saw fit, in view of those false charges, or from any other motive, to vote against me in Convention, but to vindicate my past official conduct as an officer and Republican, and to expose the deep villainy of those who have been and are endeavoring to injure me in the opinion of the Republican party, and who desire the accomplishment of other objects than those that are enunciated in the platform of our party.

            I have been charged with__

            1st.  Having given aid and comfort to the Democratic party, in allowing Messrs. W.H. Oliver, Alex. Mitchell, Amos Wade and others, composing the “Committee of Five,” to examine the record of official bonds of the different county officers, at or before the time when said Committee took steps before Judge Seymour last Fall, to set aside the Bonds of D.N. Kilburn, County Treasurer; O. Hubbs, Sheriff; I.E. West, Clerk Superior Court; and also because I furnished, upon application, certified copies of records of taxables given in by the sureties to said bonds, &c.

            2nd. Being stingy in not contributing anything to the party.

            3rd.  Not employing a colored man as a clerk in my office.

            4th.  Having been in office long enough, and a change should be made for somebody else.

            5th.  Having increased the valuations of the taxables of taxpayers without the consent of the Board of Commissioners.

            6th.  Objecting to steps being taken to obtain an injunction against the present Democratic Board of Aldermen of New-Berne, and being an obstacle in the way of the Republican party.

            In reply to the first charge, I would state, that what was done by me in this case was done under and by authority of law.  Mr. Oliver and others of said “Committee of Five,” called at my office at different times to examine the records and to obtain information concerning the bonds, as well as the time of meeting of the Commissioners for the renewal of bonds, &c., and as a public officer I exhibited to them, at their request, the bond book, the tax list, and minute docket, as public property, and told them the time of meeting of the Board.  Great dissatisfaction was expressed by these gentlemen at the insufficiency of the bonds, the failure of the Board to meet at the proper time, &c., and that was all that transpired in my office relative to the matter.  Some time thereafter Mr. R.F. Lehman, Attorney for the Commissioners; Mr. I.E. West, Clerk Superior Court, and Mr. John Patterson, Chairman of the Commissioners, expressed in my presence, considerable dissatisfaction at my furnishing copies of the records and exhibiting the books and papers of my office to Mr. Oliver and others, and in fact intimated that I had given them information voluntarily and without any authority of law.  I told them in substance, if not in words, that what information they (Oliver and others) had obtained was from the Books, and that if anything was wrong the fault was not in me.  That those gentlemen circulated the report that I had given information and aid to the Democrats I do not so charge, but from their conduct toward me in calling at my office in the way they did, I have been induced to believe that they had something to do with it; for within a short time after this affair, Sheriff Hubbs told me that he did not--to use his own expression--“take any stock in the opposition that was then being raised against me about the Bond question.”  I am sorry that I am compelled to refer to these matters, but if I were to let them pass unnoticed, it would be construed by my silence that the charges were true.

            I reply to the second charge, I would state, that I Gave, on every proper occasion, paid my part for the campaign purposes, public demonstrations, &c.  There are parties who have called on me to borrow money on private account, but I cannot say that I satisfied them all.

            With regard to the third charge, the employing of a colored clerk in my office, the excuse I have to offer is that I did not know of one sufficiently qualified to do the work of recording deeds, which is particular work, and requires a person of considerable experience as well as education, to perform.  The question of color did not cross my mind in the matter.

The gentleman who has been with me for some time (though not regularly employed) performed the work of recording very well.  He is a Republican, a white citizen of New-Berne, with a large family to support, and I did not feel it my duty to discharge him to give place to some colored person, not so well qualified, to gratify the foolish whim of some.

            I have no reply to make to the fourth charge, except to say there are others in Craven County who have been holding office a long time, as well as myself, and still continue to hold office.

            I regard to the fifth charge, relative to my “raising the valuation of tax payers without consent of the Board of Commissioners,” I would state that the authors of the report are liars.  All changes made in the valuation of property have been authorized by the Board of Commissioners.

            In regard to my objecting to steps being taken to obtain an injunction against the Democratic Board of Aldermen of New-Berne, I pronounce the whole charge as false.  A certain colored official stated, in the presence of a number of colored citizens, in the upper part of New-Berne, a few days before the recent County Convention, that Mr. Lehman, the attorney for the Commissioners, intimated in his presence, that I made objections to everything done by the Commissioners, thereby leaving the impression upon the minds of those who heard him, that I was a stumbling-block in the way of the Republican party.  And inasmuch as that very meddlesome and officious individual did not state the whole affair, I feel it my duty to give all the facts in the case, that the public may judge whether or not my conduct in this matter shall be approved or condemned.  The whole truth of this matter is this: On the 21st of April, 1876, over two weeks after the adjournment of the Commissioners, Mr. Lehman, the Attorney of the Commissioners, and some other gentlemen, with the view to holding a separate election, called in my office and requested me to enter upon the minute docket of the Board of Commissioners and in the record of the proceedings of the meeting of the Board held on the first Monday in April 1876, a list of appointment of Registrars of Voters and Inspectors of Election to hold the City Election in May following.  I refused to comply with his request, but told him that if he would get three of the members of the Board (a quorum) together in my office, and let them authorize the same to be done and assume the responsibility, I would record the list of appointments.__ Accordingly, Mr. Lehman did get Commissioners Patterson, Shlachter and Baer, together in my office, and they ordered me to have  the list entered as of record on the first Monday of said month, with instructions not to issue the notices of appointments until I received special instructions to do so, &c.  In conformity with the orders of these three Commissioners I recorded the list and issued the notices on the Saturday afternoon just before the election day, and delivered them to the Sheriff.  This is the sum and substance of my “opposition to the party,” and what my enemies charge as “objecting to steps being taken to obtain an injunction against the Democratic Board of Aldermen of New-Berne,” &c.  Whilst I have been and am now in favor of taking legal steps to have our city matters settled, I felt unwilling to make any change or additions to the proceedings of the Board of Commissioners after their adjournment, without authority from some higher source than from the Attorney of the Board.

            It has been intimated that owing to my being in sympathy with the Democrats and in consideration of favors, &c., Mr. Alex. Mitchell and others signed my official bond.  In reply, I pronounce the whole charge false.  I have not compromised myself as a Republican;  I still adhere to the principles of the Republican party, but I do protest against the policy of some, and the position taken by some against me.  No consideration has been offered by me to any one for signing my bond.  Those gentlemen who signed it, did so voluntarily, without partizan feeling, and were actuated by kind feelings towards me personally.  I was some time since informed by one of the bondsmen of D.N. Kilburn, County Treasurer, that if he would sign a certain Bond that he (Kilburn) would, as a consideration therefor, pay one of his County Bonds, and the bondsman I allude to asked me if  there were any monies levied which could be used in the payment of his bond.  After learning the amount and time of maturity of his bond, I told him I knew of no monies levied to pay it.  I have mentioned this matter because of the decided stand taken against me by this officer recently and t[w]o years ago when I was oppos[e]d by a colored candidate, and I will state other things which will show to you the motives by which he has been actuated in his opposition to me.

            In the simple performance of my duty as an officer, on an occasion during the year 1875, when the Commissioners were auditing the accounts of said D.N. Kilburn, County Treasurer, I so offended that gentleman as to bring down upon my head his indignation and wrath, and, with the devil in his heart, he promised himself in the presence of a certain gentleman, to spend $1,000 to defeat me at the next election, as he had previously defeated Judge Clarke.  The cause of this rumpus arose from the fact of my calling the attention of the Commissioners to the County Bonds of Mr. John Creekman which were, pursuant to a notice published in the “New-Berne Times,” filed with me for payment, and which were, according to said notice and order of the Board, entitled to be paid next, but were superseded and set aside by the payment of the Bonds and coupons of some special friend or favorite, which the Commissioners allowed him to turn in.  As long as Mr. Kilburn holds the office of County Treasurer, this favoritism will be continued.  Not content with the lawful commissions of his office, and his advantages in exchanging or selling coal, wood, ice, &c., for County Vouchers,__a transaction which he has been engaged in,__he has entered upon another scheme of speculation, and that is by exchanging with the National Bank of New-Berne his Ice tickets for old County Vouchers which said Bank purchased at McLean’s sale, or obtained from some other source, and afterwards having the said Vouchers credited to him on his account for County monies held by him at his last settlement. Gentlemen of reliability inform me that the National Bank of New-Berne is engaged in the sale of his Ice tickets; and I know of my own knowledge that old County claims held by said Bank amounting to over $500 were turned in by siad Kilburn at his settlement on the 22d of June last.

            With the view of the deception and of gaining favor, he has represented and is representing to the public that the County of Craven is indebted to him in the sum of $3.400, or thereabouts, and that he has paid out of his own private funds vouchers to that large amount.  As his accounts now stand on the Books I know that there appears a balance of $3.400, or more, in his favor, but while that is so, besides the $6.800 school monies now held by him, there is still in his hands, or in the hands of the Sheriff, not less than $4.000 of the delinquent taxes, including Merchants and Liquor taxes, which have been collected since the first of September, 1875, and which have not as yet been charged up to him on his account.  This is no doubt the “private fun,” which he has employed in the payment of this balance of $3.400, and which he would have the people to believe that he generously advanced to the County.

            If a man is to be set aside for the frivolous excuses and charges hereinbefore set forth and at the dictation of such men as D.N. Kilburn and others, then no Republican who is possessed of any honor or integrity need expect anything at the hands of the Republican party in Craven County. 

            I now submit this card to your consideration.                                                                       

                                                James C. Harrison.

  July 22d, 1876.

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Images scanned by John B. Green, III.  Text prepared by John B. Green, III and Victor T. Jones, Jr.
This page last edited on August 21, 2018.

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