Item #4562 [Archive of Ephemera and Correspondence Relating to Herbert C. Holdridge, Including a Press Release Proposing Reparations for the Descendants of Slaves]. Herbert C. Holdridge.

[Archive of Ephemera and Correspondence Relating to Herbert C. Holdridge, Including a Press Release Proposing Reparations for the Descendants of Slaves]

Sherman Oaks, Ca. 1954-1961. Twenty-five printed documents and nineteen typed letters or notes, most signed. Minor overall wear. Very good. Item #4562

An enlightening collection of documents and correspondence from Brigadier General Herbert C. Holdridge, an intriguing American military officer and political actor during the mid-20th century. Herbert Charles Holdridge (1892-1974) was most widely known in his own time for being the only United States Army general to retire during World War II. He would later become almost as widely known, as the present collection can exhibit, for espousing controversial political viewpoints and even advocating for fringe ideas as a minor party candidate for president. In 1957, Holdridge founded the Minute Men for the Constitution, through which he published two newsletters, "New Notes" and "Reveille" (copies of some issues of each present here), allowing him to disseminate conservative ideas, anti-Catholic propaganda, socialist ideas, a commitment to pacifism, and controversial positions in support of African American and Native American issues (both also well represented in the present collection). Later in life, Holdridge established the Constitutional Provisional Government of the United States which claimed the Hopi Indians were still a sovereign nation because they never signed a peace treaty with the United States. Apparently, Holdridge appointed himself to represent the Hopi in this matter without ever attracting a single member of the tribe for support. In sum, Holdridge's political ideology was incoherent, unorthodox, and inconsistent, though once he focused into an idea such as reparations for descendants of American slaves, he never wavered from said positions.

Advocating for reparation payments for African American descendants of slaves was one of Holdridge's most controversial positions. During his campaign for the White House in 1960, Holdridge issued a press release in support of reparations; a copy of this press release is present here. The release outlines General Holdridge's plan for reparation grants of $5,000 for each descendant of the African American slaves freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Dated March 25, 1960, the statement reads, in part: "At the time the freedmen came to believe that Lincoln would give each of them '40 Acres and a Mule' to permit them to establish economic independence. No compensation of any kind was ever given them for their long years of servitude, and their children have continued ever since the 'hewers of wood and the drawers of water' of the White Men -- the last to be hired, the first to be hired, and reduced to a new form of economic slavery with the doors to equal economic opportunity closed to them. Such 'GRANTS' of reparations to the descendants of the slaves is obligatory as an act of justice to the Negroes, and to free the White Man from his burden of guilt for the centuries of crimes perpetrated against the Negroes. They, as we, are American born citizens, entitled to justice from our people and our government." The release continues with an appeal to African American Democrats for support of his inclusion on the primary ballot, and closes by acknowledging prominent African American newspaper publisher and Civil Rights activist Charlotta Bass, who served on General Holdridge's campaign committee.

The concept of American slavery reparations is thought to have originated in the colonial era, when it was customary for masters to grant "freedom dues" to indentured servants who had completed their fixed term of service. The issue surfaced again at the end of the Civil War, when General William Tecumseh Sherman issued Special Field Order No. 15, which granted to each freed slave family forty acres of tillable land in the sea islands around Charleston, South Carolina. The Union Army also gave away a number of extra mules to freed slaves in the South. President Andrew Johnson reversed Sherman's order after the assassination of President Lincoln, which led Thaddeus Stevens to sponsor a bill for the redistribution of land to African Americans, but it did not pass. The end of Reconstruction, the implementation of Jim Crow laws, the Civil Rights Movement, the introduction of bills related to reparations in Congress by Congressman John Conyers (1989) and Senator Cory Booker (2019), the Black Lives Matter movement, and more have continued to keep the prospect of reparations alive. As such, General Holdridge's call for reparations fits into a long timeline of this controversial issue.

Other interesting documents authored by Holdridge in the present collection include a statement indicting the Federal Reserve Board for "Treason Against the Constitution of the United States," a notice for a meeting of the Minute Men for the Constitution, copies of letters to various government officials, a printed circular printing Holdridge's letter to the Pope accusing him of "Incitement of U.S. Citizens for Treason" (and with other anti-Catholic pieces), an issue of "Reveille" calling for "Total Disarmament -- Total Peace -- Total Abundance," an issue of "News Notes" in which Holdridge discusses Tick Fever and other issues, and many more similarly intriguing documents. Three of the documents are wholly concerned with issues related to Native American relations with the U.S. The titles will give some idea of their content: "To the North American Indians...Criminal Decision of the Supreme Court Against Tuscaroras," "Redress," and "A Message to the North American Indians."

In addition to the documents, the present collection contains seventeen letters and two postcard notes from Holdridge to John Moore of Pasadena, California. The correspondence is dated between 1955 and 1961, many of which are written to "Dear Friend John." Holdridge's letters inform Mr. Moore of his political activities, his political, organizational, and philosophical struggles, respond to specific correspondence and information from Moore, and so forth, with Holdridge often regaling Moore on one issue or another in unvarnished language. In one letter to Moore, Holdridge refers to his political ideology as "intelligent radicalism" which he is employing to "dig to the roots of our situation, for only at the roots will we find the causes and the cures."

The present collection is an informative compendium of Holdridge's politics, philosophy, and passion -- impossible to box in to any cogent ideology, but fascinating reading worthy of further study.

Price: $1,750.00