James M. Rutland Declares Himself a "Union Republican"
September 11, 1867

In this letter, published in September 1867, James M. Rutland declared himself a "Union Republican" and accepted African American education and "legal and political rights."


Mr. Editor

Some persons, taking it for granted I presume, that I will become a candidate for a seat in the Convention or something else before long, have undertaken, in advance, to circulate a false report which is calculated to do me harm among the colored portion of the population. Allow me a small space in your columns to correct this report.

I have been told by several persons that it has been circulated through the District that in my address to the colored people on the fourth of July last, I advised them not to listen to any one who came from a distance to speak to them on political questions, thereby attempting to produce the impression that I advocated a policy in opposition to their receiving light and knowledge. The whole story is a fabrication without the slightest foundation in truth. It was no doubt suggested to the original inventor by the following facts and circumstances, namely: I had been requested to give notice on the occasion of celebration of the fourth of July, that there would be a “mass meeting” of the colored people held in Winnsboro the following week, and that said meeting would be addressed by a certain individual. After arriving on the ground where the celebration took place I was informed by several gentlemen present that the individual above mentioned had been arrested by order of Gen. Sickles, and was then confined in prison for using incendiary language to colored people, and for swindling them out of money. I stated these facts to the audience from the speakers’ stand and advised the colored people not to attend the proposed “mass meeting,” and not to listen to the teachings of any such men. I think I was right, and would do so again under similar circumstances.

I am now, and always have been in favor of education—God forbid that I should ever oppose it—and I think it peculiarly the duty of the colored population in their new relations to society to seek knowledge by every means in their power, that they may learn how to exercise and enjoy their privileges rationally—to educate their children and prepare them to be good and useful citizens. I particularly urged this upon them in my speech on the fourth of July, as every one who heard me can testify.

A word now as to my political complexion, as some are curious to know exactly how far I go, and precisely where I stop. I would, therefore, say to all whom it may concern, that I am in favor of a Convention, and in favor of reconstructing the State under the military bill and suppliments, and am in favor of conceding to the colored people all their legal and political rights, and yielding obedience to the laws of my country generally. These being my principles in brief, they constitute me a Union Republican, and I expect to act with that party in future. I wish it understood however, that I do not intend to go for party right or wrong, and that I claim the privilege of judging for myself of what is right and what is wrong.

I am no extremist and never have been, and hence I eschew Radicalism.

I most cordially approve the views and sentiments contained in the very able letter of Gen. Longstreet, of June 4th, 1867, addressed to J.M.G. Parker, Esq.

I trust I have said enough to satisfy my curious friends. Respectfully,



The Fairfield Herald, 11 September 1867.