Letter from the Territorial Governor of Montana encouraging a man from Illinois to emigrate and start a cattle or sheep ranch. B. F. Potts to Joseph Barber.
Letter from the Territorial Governor of Montana encouraging a man from Illinois to emigrate and start a cattle or sheep ranch
Letter from the Territorial Governor of Montana encouraging a man from Illinois to emigrate and start a cattle or sheep ranch

Letter from the Territorial Governor of Montana encouraging a man from Illinois to emigrate and start a cattle or sheep ranch

Virginia City, Montana to Richview, Illinois: 1872. Envelope or Cover.

This letter is written on official “Territory of Montana. Executive Department” letterhead, dated November 13, 1872. It is accompanied by its official “Executive Department / Montana Territory” mailing envelope which is franked with a three-cent green Washington stamp (Scot #147) and cancelled with a circular Virginia City postmark (also dated November 13) and cork killer. The envelope had been roughly opened—but later repaired—causing minor damage to the stamp; however the cover is quite attractive. The letter is bright and fresh. Transcript included.

In this letter, Governor Potts answers a query from an Illinois man about the possible to relocate to Montana. An unabashed promoter of his state, Potts responds with vigor and excited encouragement:

“If you wish to enter the stock business no place on the Continent can offer you better advantages and I doubt if as good as Montana. The N.P.R.R [Northern Pacific Rail Road] will be in Montana next year and during the building of 600 miles of the Road through Montana Cattle and Sheep will bring a good price. You will be able to purchase Stock here in the Spring at a fair price as many have large herds and will be compelled to sell some in the Spring. Come and see the Country in May next and if you don’t like it we will promise to let you leave at any time.”. Very good. Item #009583

Before his appointment as governor by President Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Franklin Potts, a former Union General Officer, was an Ohio lawyer and Senator. He initially refused the appointment because his vote for the 15th Amendment—which prohibited States from denying the right to vote based upon a person’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude”—was crucial to its passage. Potts served as governor from 1870 to 1883 and was heavily involved with Indian affairs during that time, reducing both lawlessness and vigilante justice, and promoting the growth of frontier towns including Missoula.

A great early Montana document and superb example of Governor Potts enthusiasm in promoting his territory.

Official letters from Governor Potts appear to be rather scarce. At the time of listing, none are for sale in the trade, and Rare Book Hub and eBay records show only one having ever been sold at auction. OCLC shows the only institutional collection of his letters to be in the Benjamin Franklin Potts Papers held by the Library of Congress.

Price: $750.00