1883: Leonard Bricker to Republican National Committee

This intriguing letter was written by Leonard Bricker acting as agent for John B. Simmons of Kissimmee City, Florida, in September 1883. In the letter, Bricker proposes that Simmons’ undeveloped land in Florida be leased and the rent collected and set aside for the use by the Republican National Committee to campaign in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama against “the horrid proslavery democracy” that still gripped the South two decades after the close of the Civil War.

“Rev. Daniel Simmons (17xx-1855), a Baptist minister, purchased 640 acres of land from the Spanish Government, upon which he located with his family. He was a man of means and improved his property, but during one of the Indian insurrections the family fled for their lives to Mobile, Alabama. Rev. Simmons never attempted to regain possession of his property around “Simmons Hammock,” near Seffner, Fla., where some valuable orange groves are now located. About 1846 the families of Simmons, McKay, and McCarty left Mobile by the same boat, landing at Chashowiska, Fla. The McKays soon afterward came to Tampa, but the other two families remained in Hernando County until 1849, when Mr. McCarty moved to Tampa.” [Source: The Blue Book and History of Pioneers Tampa, Florida 1914, by Mrs. Pauline Brown-Hazen]

TRANSCRIPTION

Kissimmee City, Florida
September 10, 1883

Gentlemen of the National Republican Committee,

Some days ago I had the honor to write a proposition of Mr. John B. Simmons of this place in regard to raising money for campaign purposes on his claim to the Military Reservation of Tampa. I now have the honor of making still another proposition in his behalf for the same purpose. This proposition is not intended to supersede the former one but to be acted on in case the former one proves impractical.

The Simmons family became separated during the Florida Indian War and never again brought together and only since writing the aforesaid letter has Mr. J. B. Simmons—who is now the representative of the family—come in possession of the family title deeds and finds his title clear to two hundred acres with power of attorney to sell or dispose of 3,000 acres in addition, including a 40 acre orange grove, all of it high Hammock Land selected more than fifty years ago and is of the very best in the state, and is the plantation from which the Elder [Daniel] Simmons was driven by the Indians. It is situated 14 miles east of Tampa and two miles from the South Florida Railroad.

Now he proposes to mortgage that property for from three to five years for all the money which he can raise upon it at 10 percent interest per annum with the privileges of lifting the mortgage sooner if he has a good opportunity of selling and will denote all the money thus obtained for campaign purposes.

Now he desires you to send a suitable party down here to examine the property and his title thereto, with power to act in case that he finds it all correct. This same party—your agent—may control the disbursement of the money provided it is used in the three states of Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. At all events, we would rely on your committee to send us the proper speakers to canvas these states as well as the proper organizing forces to plan the machinery for obtaining a full vote and a fair count and a proper return of the same.

We are aware that this is a big job but we think it can be accomplished in the way indicated and the dead line of the horrid proslavery democracy forever broken and our people emancipated from the thralldom of those political criminals. And at the same time we hope that you will find someone to do for poor South Carolina what we propose to for those three states named.

Hoping that you will see your way clear to act in this suggestion very promptly, I remain yours to command, — Leonard Bricker

P. S. Mr. Simmons offer Judge [George M.] Duskin of Mobile and Judge [Samuel Farrow] Rice of Montgomery for telegraphic reference. — L. B.

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