NOT long ago the Kansas State Historical Societycame into possession of aphotographic copy of the famous "Ross letter," reputed to have been written inJuly, 1862, by Sen. Samuel C. Pomeroy to W. W. Ross. The copy was a gift of MissAdela C. Van Horn of Kansas City, Mo.  Later, the original letter appeared inthe Sen. Edmund G. Ross papers recently acquired from Mrs. Lillian Leis ofLawrence, daughter of Ross. The appearance of this original, the contents ofwhich rocked the state in 1872, prompts a review of the Pomeroy-Ross episode.Samuel Pomeroy's name was frequently connected with rumors of corruption andbribery during his political career in Kansas. He has been described as one who"weighed everything by a money standard. He has judged all public measures by thecash that was in them; and estimated all men by the amount it would take to buythem."  Ex-Sen. Edmund Ross, commenting upon Pomeroy's proclivities forimproving his opportunities in office wrote:
Vide his 90,000 acres of Pottawatomie lands obtained for passing the Pottawatomietreaty-his 50,000 acres of Kickapoo lands for passing the Kickapoo treaty-his twohundred lots in Neodesha for moving the land office to that place-his half of thetown site of Augusta for locating the land office there-his half of the town siteof Concordia for locating the land office there-his 100 lots in the city ofHumboldt for removing the land office from Fort Scott to that place-his 100 lotsin the city of Ottawa for passing the Ottawa treaty-his three-sixteenths interestin the Delaware lands for passing the Delaware treaty-the princely fortune initself, that he stole from the Central Branch Railroad company, consisting ofgovernment and railroad mortgage bonds given to it as asubsidy.
Positive proof of all the charges might bedifficult to obtain, but if Pomeroywas the author of this "Strictly Confidential" letter he obviously was guilty ofcorrupt practices. The notorious letter, written when W. W. Ross was Indian agentto the Pottawatomies, proposed a division of profits in certain Indian tradingactivities. Brought to light ten years later by Sen. E. G. Ross, brother ofW.
W. Ross, in whose possession the letter had come,4 it was first printed inRoss'sPaper at Coffeyville on March 16, 1872, and read as follows:
Washington D. C.July 22
W. W. Ross
My dear sir
Have you yet recommended any one to sell Goods tothe Pottawatomes? If not I have a plan- Mr. J. K. Tappan of New York will takehold and furnish a splendid lot of Goods- provided he gets the license to sellexclusively on the Reserve at St. Mary's mission.
You can give the Indians an order for Goods on thisstore- And those orders are accepted when the annuities are paid- This proceedingis recognised here at the Department- and is all right.
I send inclosed a form of a letter for you to sendback to me- to give to Mr. Dole  - But I dont deliver it until Mr. Tappan andEdward Clark of Lawrence- now figuring here on Indian matters- and who have anagreement with each other- about goods- I say I dont deliver your recommendationuntil I have executed to me a Contract to have ¼ of all the profits paid toW. E. Gaylord  as my share- and ¼ of all profits paid to Mr. (name him tome) for your share. You & I, through our two friends are to have ½ ofthe Profits- And Tappan & Clark the other half- And Tappan to do all thebusiness And we have nothing to do, only to take our share of profits at eachpayment.
Now if you will fix it up at that end of the line- I will see thewritings are all executed right to this end- And we will be all right- Name theman to represent you- with Mr Gaylord who represents me.
You will see from this letter what kind of a recommendation to give Mr Tappan-But dont fail to send it to me- as they must come to terms before they get theLicense.
Tappan is a grand fellow- Its all right. Let mehearfrom you at once.Truly,
S. C. Pomeroy
I find upon reflection that you must send thesepapers through Col. Baranch  at St. Joe so I will make the contract for myself& you- at once- and you return the Application and Recommendation to Dole-through Col. Branch.
S. C. P.
This letter naturally made splendid politicalcapital for Pomeroy's enemies and was copied by other papers of the statewhich
U. S. Senator From Kansas, 1861-1873
Charges of Bribery and Corruption Defeated Him
in His Attempt to Secure a Third Term.
were opposed to his reelection to the United States senate. On September 16,1872, the Lawrence Standard published the letter,  and soon after the Novemberelection it appeared in telegraphic dispatches under an article from Lawrence,dated November 20, 1872.  The original at that time was in the hands of J. C.Horton of Lawrence. The editorial comment of R. T. Van Horn, editor of the KansasCity (Mo.) Journal of Commerce, questioning its genuineness, called forth aletter from John Hutchings of Lawrence, who assured the editor that the letterwas not spurious and enclosed a photographic copy to prove his assertion. Eastern papers also gave publicity to the "Ross letter." Charles A. Dana, editorof the New York Sun, at the time engaged in exposing political corruption in theUnited States, published a facsimile in his paper of December 16, 1872. Hedevoted the leading editorial to it, commenting that the letter would give thepublic "an exact idea of Pomeroy's handwriting," while the contents of the letterwould afford "an equally faithful view of Pomeroy's moral nature." He commendedthe letter to the consideration of such senators as might "be disposed tomeditate on Pomeroy's method of employing the authority of his great office."
Until 1913 United States senators were electedby state legislatures. Just beforethe meeting of the Kansas legislature of 1873, E. G. Ross published the letter inthe first issue of The Evening Paper, which he established in Lawrence onJanuary 8, 1873. 
He also published a facsimile on January 13. And again on January 20, hedeemed "it advisable to give that letter another insertion," inasmuch as he waspublishing in the same paper a threat from Senator Pomeroy to prosecute for libelthose who were instrumental in giving the letter publicity.  He devoted onepage to the facsimile under the caption, "The modus operandi of a SenatorialIndian Steal-How some Senators are made Millionaires on Senatorial Salaries of$5,000 a year." 
Pomeroy ignored the letter at first, neitheradmitting nor denying itsauthorship. With plenty of money, a well organized machine to back him,  andan opposition divided into numerous factions,  he thought he had nothing tofear. But its wide publication was having an effect, and it was one of the chiefweapons in the hands of the opposition. Editors began to express the opinion thatif Pomeroy could clear up the "Ross letter" be would be elected.  Pomeroybecame somewhat alarmed when he saw that his hold on the state was weakening andset about to prove that the letter was a forgery. His plan was to throw the blameon an Edward Clark  who had once been a senate committee clerk, and who hadalso been a law partner of Willis Gaylord, Pomeroy's brother-in-law. 
One of his first moves was to have an iteminserted in an Eastern paper stating that the pretended facsimile letterattributed to Senator Pomeroy was written by one Edward Clark who had run awayfrom Washington some years before to escape arrest and imprisonment for forgery.The item stated that "the fact of his writing this
letter in Pomeroy's name has long been known at the capital, and that thematter is now only revived because an election for senator will soon be held inKansas."  For proof Pomeroy secured statements from Joseph B. Stewart and O. A. Stevens, Washington attorneys, who were once associated with Clark.What he paid these men, or that he paid them at all for their false assertions,is not known, but it was believed they received a "considerable sum." Stewart'sletter, dated December 21, 1872, was addressed to T. D. Thacher, editor of theLawrence Journal, informing him that he had seen the facsimile andrecognized it as the one which Thacher had called to his attention last September13 in the Journal office. He said that the letter was written by Edward Clark,once a member of the firm of Stewart, Stevens & Clark; that Clark hadconceived the idea of making a profit out of Indian trade and had written theletter in his office and signed Pomeroy's name to it, and that it was the sameletter Thacher had shown him. He mentioned that Clark after leaving the firm hadmisused funds and had had to leave the city "under most serious charges againsthim for embezzlement." He closed by saying, "I write you this letter of my ownmotive as a simple act of justice, to withhold which would be wrong, and Irequest you to publish the same in your paper. I shall send a copy of this to theHon. S. C. Pomeroy."  But according to Thacher's sworn statement made onJanuary 27, 1873, he did not receive a copy of Stewart's letter. He furtherstated that when he showed Stewart the original Ross letter in his office onSeptember 13, Stewart exclaimed, "That's enough; why that letter would impeachhim anywhere."  O. A. Stevens wrote his statement on December 25, 1872, andaddressed it to the editor of the New York Sun. He praised the editor forhis fearlessness in exposing "political knavery and trickery," but thought thatin some cases the proof did not warrant the severity and irony contained in hispaper. He felt that justice demanded a retraction of the leading editorial of hispaper under the date of December 16, having reference to the "published autographletter or facsimile of one claimed to have been written by Senator S. C.Pomeroy." "If you should decline to do this," he wrote, "upon the proofs you havein your possession as to its authenticity, it is but right and
fairhanded justice to give further particulars in reference to thehand-writing referred to by you editorially as that of Senator Pomeroy." He thenexplained that in the spring of 1862 the firms of Stewart, Stevens & Co. andClark & Gaylord were merged for business purposes, the latter firm reservingall matters pertaining to Indian affairs. As an associate of the firm he becameconversant with Clark's business arrangements; his connection with Indiancontracts, and the "modus operanda, whereby he was enabled in a measure tocontrol that species of business." He said that Clark as a partner of WillisGaylord, a brother-in-law of the senator, represented that he had full authorityto use Pomeroy's name for business purposes and did use his name on manyoccasions. "It is with this knowledge," he concluded, "that I pronounce theautograph or facsimile referred to as the handwriting of said Edward Clark, from`strictly confidential' to the `P. S.' signed `Truly, S. C. P.' Of this fact I amwilling to affirm." 
With these two letters in his hand Pomeroy thensought Edward Clark to secure a signed confession from him. With the aid ofSchuyler Colfax he located Clark at Sharon, Pa., and arranged by telegraph for ameeting at Pittsburgh early in January. 
In the meantime a press dispatch of December 31stated that Pomeroy was leaving for Kansas to look after his chances forreelection and that "The Senator has just received proof of the forged characterof the letter purporting to be signed by him relative to sharing with an Indianagent in trading profits, and will carry sworn statements with him. He expects tomake the editor who first published the same retract or undergo a libel Suit."
Pomeroy met Clark in Pittsburgh on January 4,1873, and told him that his enemies were using the letter against him. SinceClark had been in Washington at the time the letter was written, Pomeroy said, hethought perhaps he might remember something about it, and he asked Clark to writea statement to that effect.
For such a letter of confession he was willingto pay $1,000. When Clark showed him the items in the Pittsburgh Commercial ofDecember 20 and 31 Pomeroy denied having seen them.
Although Clark denied that he wrote the letterand had ever seen or heard of it he permitted Pomeroy to write out the statementthat he wanted signed. This was in the form of a letter to "Mr. Thacher, of theLawrence Journal, Kansas." It mentioned that several Eastern papers hadalluded
to the letter "purporting to have been written by Senator Pomeroy, . . . andpublished now with the evident intent to injure him in his re-election." Itdeclared that he (Clark) had resided in Washington while W. W. Ross was agent tothe Pottawatomies, that he had had a contract with the Pottawatomies of Michiganto prosecute their claims before the department, that he was acquainted with E.A. Smith, a clerk in the Indian office, that he was intimate with Senator Pomeroyand had business relations with his brother-in-law, Willis Gaylord, and that hehad never known Pomeroy to do anything to compromise his position as senator.After some discussion Clark took the paper and finished the letter asfollows:
Mr. Gaylord and myself often acted as his amanuenses, and that such a letter ashas been alluded to may have been prepared by Gaylord or myself is possible; butas nothing came of it I feel quite certain that the senator knew nothing aboutit, and am quite as certain that none of us derived any benefit therefrom." Pomeroy then asked Clark to sign the document, offering to give him a hundreddollars and to send his wife fifty dollars. Clark refused to sign, took the onehundred dollars as a lawyer's fee; got possession of the letter, and decided togo to Kansas to investigate the matter, and turn in and help defeat Pomeroy. 
According to Clark's affidavit he arrived inTopeka on January 13 and took a roomat the Tefft House, Pomeroy's headquarters. He talked with Pomeroy on January 15and again on the next day. At that time he agreed to copy the "confession" andsign it for $2,000, his expenses to Topeka, and an office if he should want one.In copying the letter he addressed it to Pomeroy instead of Thacher, dated itJanuary 13, and at Pomeroy's suggestion added that he had come out voluntarily tohelp him. Also at Pomeroy's request the original copy was burned. On January18 Clark went to Lawrence, stopping at the Eldridge House. There he met his oldfriend, James Blood, and through him learned of the letters of Stewart and Stevens which placed the blame on him. Also he saw a copy of the "Ross letter" andfound that his name was mentioned in it, although Pomeroy had told him that itwas not. He said that he could not understand why Pomeroy used his name as abeneficiary unless it was "as a decoy to get an extra quarter of the profits."When Clark returned to Topeka Pomeroy told him that he had just received a let-
ter from Gaylord admitting that he had written the letter. Then on January 22Horton showed him the original Ross letter and he recognized it as Pomeroy's handwriting.
Clark concluded that the whole matter was a conspiracy of Pomeroy, Stewart,Stevens and Gaylord to fasten the crime on him, and decided to go home to prepareto prosecute the perjurers, but advised Blood to telegraph him if he was needed.The opposition apparently wanted him on the grounds and sent him a message toreturn. When he again reached Topeka Clark found that Pomeroy was exhibiting theletters of Stewart and Stevens, together with his "confession." He then took theadvice of friends and went before D. M. Valentine, associate justice of thesupreme court, and made a deposition of the whole proceedings, emphaticallydenying that he had written the letter. His affidavit appeared in The KansasDaily Commonwealth of January 28, 1873, and filled more than three columns.He also attended an anti-Pomeroy caucus. on January 27, read his affidavit anddisplayed the $2,000 which he had received.
Of this incident William S. Blakely wrote: "The Senatorial fight is red hot.Clark appeared before the anti-caucus and read the affidavit which is publishedin the Commonwealth, and showed the $2,000.00 in greenbacks which he rec'd. Ithink Pom is gone certain, but it is difficult to tell who will be the man."
Included among other declarations in support ofPomeroy was one from a number ofcitizens of Lawrence, dated January 27, certifying that Edward Clark, "formerlyof Lawrence, afterwards of Washington, D. C., more recently of parts unknown,"had from the first borne an infamous reputation, and that because of theirpersonal knowledge of his transactions and his character they would not believehis statement under oath. The signers were T. B. Eldridge, Ed. S. Eldridge, W.Barricklow, William Hayes, M. W. Reynolds, W. A. Rankin, A. D. Searle, AbramCutler, H. Shanklin, Ephraim Nute, Jr., C. L. Edwards, J. H. Shimmons, JohnSpeer, John Hutchings, C. F. Garrett and J. L. Speer. 
With the letters of Stewart and Stevens placingthe blame on Clark, and withClark's own statement admitting that he might have written the letter, togetherwith the statement of the Lawrence citizens blackening Clark's reputation,Pomeroy considered that he had cleared up the matter. When questioned, he wouldpresent his proofs and avoid if possible absolutely denying writing theletter.
But if the proofs did not satisfy an inquirer hedid not hesitate to make adenial. When Col. A. M. York with whom Pomeroy was bargaining for his vote, readthe proofs and then continued to ask if he had written the "Ross letter," Pomeroyreplied, "I did not write the letter." 
W. W. Ross, however, to whom the letter had beenwritten, ridiculed the idea offorgery and said that the letter came direct from Pomeroy. He declared "thatPomeroy quarreled with him because he would not enter into the swindlingarrangement with him."  "If there is any forgery about the case," heasserted, "it is in the preparation of the intended proof now on the way toKansas." 
James Blood of Lawrence likewise made a swornstatement that he had beenacquainted with the handwriting of S. C. Pomeroy for seventeen years, that he hadcarefully compared the letter with other letters written by Pomeroy and that hehad no doubt that the letter was written by him.  And W. F. Downs, one ofPomeroy's henchmen, when asked if the letter was in Pomeroy's handwriting,declared that if it was counterfeit, it was "admirably executed." 
In this atmosphere of accusation and counteraccusation the Kansas senate met onthe morning of January 28 to vote for a United States senator. Then before theballoting began, John P. St. John offered the following resolution:
WHEREAS, The sworn evidence is before the members of the Senate, that one of thecitizens of the State of Kansas, S. C. Pomeroy, now a United States Senator, andagain aspiring to that position, has with his own hands given a bribe of twothousand dollars in United States Currency here at the city of Topeka, January16, 1873, to a citizen of the United States, named Edward Clark, to procure fromhim, the said Clark, a statement in writing that said Pomeroy did not write acertain letter known as the "Ross letter," and
mittee to appear and answer as to the facts contained in this preamble and theresolutions. 
The resolution was adopted and the -president ofthe senate appointed J. P. St.John, Nathan Price, W. A. Johnson, W. M. Matheny, and J. C. Wilson as thecommittee.  But on the next day before the committee had had time to meet,a more startling exposure took place. The two houses met in joint session at 12noon to elect a United States senator. Just before the vote was taken AlexanderM. York, senator from Montgomery county, arose and addressed the convention,giving details of the course he and others had taken to determine whether moneywas being used in the election. He then handed the chief clerk a packagecontaining $7,000 which Pomeroy had given to him for his vote and reported thatanother $1,000 was to have been delivered after his vote was cast. The effect wasoverwhelming. The balloting began shortly afterward, and John J. Ingalls, who hadpreviously been agreed upon in an anti-Pomeroy caucus,  was almostunanimously elected on the first ballot. Pomeroy, whose friends had beenconfident of his election a few minutes before, did not receive a singlevote.
The "Ross letter" was an effective instrument inthe hands of the opposition andmight possibly have caused Pomeroy's defeat without the York exposure. With thedownfall of Pomeroy, interest in the letter for political purposes ended. And asthe committee did not meet to investigate, the controversy remained unsettled.Another committee of the legislature did investigate Pomeroy's dealings with Yorkand others of its members, however, and found him "guilty of the crime ofbribery, and attempting to corrupt by offers of money, members of the Legislatureof the State of Kansas,"  but a select committee of the United States senateconcluded that the charges were part of a plot to defeat him for reelection.Pomeroy's term ended March 4, 1873. He remained in Washington several yearsafterward and later made his home at Whitinsville, Mass., where he died on August27, 1891.
Photographic reproductions of the three pages ofthe "Ross letter" accompany thisarticle. Another Pomeroy letter, which is authentic beyond question, is alsoreproduced to enable the reader to compare the handwriting and decide for himselfwhether the "Ross letter" was a forgery. The letters were written on linedpaper, 93/4 x 73/4 inches.
1. This photographic copy was the one sent to Robert T. Van Horn, grandfather ofMiss Van Horn, by John Hutchings of Lawrence in November, 1872, in an effort toprove to Van Horn that the letter was not spurious but genuine.-See p. 485.
2. New York Tribune, January 30, 1873.
3. Council Grove Democrat, April 25, 1872.
4. Ibid., March 21, 1872.
5. William P. Dole was U. S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1861-1864. 6. WillisE. Gaylord was Senator Pomeroy's brother-in-law.
7. H. B. Branch was superintendent of Indian affairs for the CentralSuperintendency from 1861 to 1863.-Reports of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs,1861-1863.
8. Wilder, D. W., The Annals of Kansas (Topeka, 1886), p. 581. 9.Leavenworth Daily Times, November 21, 1872.
10. John Hutchings to R. T. Van Horn, November 25, 1872.-MSS. division, KansasState Historical Society.
11. New York Sun, December 16, 1872.
12. The Daily Kansas Tribune, Lawrence, January 9, 1873.
13. Pomeroy Investigation; Reports of the Joint Committee Appointed by theLegislature of Kansas, 1873, to Investigate Charges of Corruption and BriberyAgainst Hon. S. C. Pomemy, and Members of the Legislature, . . . (Topeka,1873), p. 84.
14. Ross published an interview with Pomeroy by a correspondent of the St. LouisRepublican, in which Pomeroy said that his legal representative was preparingsuits which would be brought against the principal parties to the publishing ofthe letter. "The letter," he said, is held by some parties with a view to extortblackmail."-The Evening Paper, Lawrence, January 20, 1873.
16. One newspaper described Pomeroy's method of political control as follows:
"Pomeroy entered upon the Senatorial contest with all the careful and elaboratepreparations of an experienced general. Long before the fall election he had sentout his mandate to his postmasters and office holders 'Fix things at your end ofthe line, and I will fix things here.' In every county in the State, hedistributed money in large amounts to control the elections. In Douglas, Labetteand other counties he put forward candidates to defeat the regular nominees wherethey were known to be opposed to him.
`By these means he secured a nucleus of pledged and positive strength round whichto rally his forces. Several of the leading journals of the State were ofnecessity under his control. The Lawrence Tribune was owned by PostmasterShimmons. The Atchison Champion was owned by Postmaster Martin. The PaolaSpirit was owned by Postmaster Perry. The Parsons Sun was owned byReceiver Reynolds. The Commonwealth was owned by Adams & Veal andother Topeka speculators who wanted the State printing, and wanted still more toget Pomeroy's subscription of $200,000 to the King Bridge Manufacturing Co.,which they finally got before the election. Pomeroy told us that he had 'givenmoney to several small papers for party purposes.'
All the railroads of the State have been enlisted in Mr. Pomeroy's support,except the L., L. & G., and this even was awed into a reluctant support byPomeroy's threats. All the roads furnished free passes to Pomeroy's lobby.
"The influences of the church had been arrayed in his favor. "Woman's pureinfluence was dragged in.
"Judge Lowe and Col. Phillips were threatened. . We were told that if we did notgive in our adhesion to Pomeroy, a new paper would be started in Chetopa, withthe Government patronage and post office to back it, and that Pomeroy and hisfriends, would crush out the Advance.
"The members were beset from the time of their arrival till the very hour ofballoting, by the Pomeroy lobby. . . .''-Southern Kansas Advance, Chetopa,February 5, 1873.17. There were at least ten candidates for senator in the anti-Pomeroy ranks,each with his group of supporters.
18. Beloit Weekly Gazette, January 2, 1873; The Independent, Oskaloosa,January 11, 1873.
19. Edward Clark came to Kansas some time in 1854. He presided at a publicmeeting in Lawrence on January 16, 1865. The census of 1855 lists him as a nativeof the U. S., lawyer, twenty-one years of age, and having emigrated from NewYork. In February, 1855, he opened a law office on Massachusetts street and did ageneral law and land office business until the raid on Lawrence in May, 1856,after which he seems to have left the city. He went to Washington, possibly in1859. For some time he acted as agent in prosecuting before the Department ofIndian Affairs the claims of various Indians and Indian tribes, notably thePottawatomies in Michigan. He was also a law partner of Willis Gaylord, and inthe spring of 1862 the firm of Clark & Gaylord merged with that of Stewart,Stevens & Co. Clark later moved to Pennsylvania.-Kansas Free State,Lawrence, January 24, 1855; Herald of Freedom, Lawrence, February 17,1855, May 10, 1856; The Kansas Daily Commonwealth, Topeka, January 28,1873; records of the Office of Indian Affairs, vols. 59-76, microfilm copies inArchives division, Kansas State Historical Society.
20. Kansas Daily Commonwealth, Topeka, January 28, 1873.
21. Ibid., quoting from the Pittsburgh (Pa.) Commercial, December20, 1872.
22. Col. Joseph B. Stewart spent the summer of 1872 in Kansas, attending theUnited States district court: in which he had a case against the Kansas Pacificrailroad. He took an active part m the political campaign m the state. KansasDaily Commonwealth, Topeka, September 17, 1872, February 2, 1873.
23. Ibid., January 28, 1873.
27. Junction City Union, January 4, 1873.
28. Kansas Daily Commonwealth, Topeka, January 28, 1873.29. Ibid.
30. William S. Blakely to George Martin, January 28, 1873.-Martin Collection.MSS. division, Kansas State Historical Society.
31. Kansas Daily Commonwealth, January 28, 1873.
32. Ibid., January 30, 1873.
33. The Independent, Oskaloosa, January 11, 1873.
34. Junction City Union, January 4, 1873, a dispatch from St. Louis datedDecember 31, 1872.
35. Kansas Daily Commonwealth, Topeka, January 28, 1873.
36. Pomeroy Investigation (Topeka, 1873), p. 84.
37. Senate Journal; Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly of the State ofKansas (Topeka, 1873), pp. 100-108.
38. Ibid., p. 110.
39. Atchison Daily Champion, January 29, 1873.
40. Pomeroy Investigation (Topeka, 1873), p. 4.