Louis Arthur Coolidge.

The record of James H. Platt online

. (page 1 of 1)
Online LibraryLouis Arthur CoolidgeThe record of James H. Platt → online text (page 1 of 1)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


013 744 262




(: inCj

E 664
P69 R3

Copy I





Editorial from the Norfolk (Va.) Landmark, of August 30th, 1876.


Norfolk, Va., August 29th, 1876.

I submit the subjoined statement which has been voluntarily
tendered to me by Captain W. H. Coe, of Washington city, and
hereby dismiss Paxton and its author, James H. Piatt, as beneath
my contempt. John Goode, Jk.

Norfolk. Va,, August 20th, 18T0.

I. W. H. Coe. of Washington city, D. C, make the following
statement: On the evening of the 23d of August, 1S7G, I called
upon James H. Piatt, at his rooms No 1108 F. Street, in the city
of Washington, for the purpose of procuring a letter of introduc-
tion to Ale'xandcr R. Siieppard, which I desired to use in obtaining
:i situation at the Smitlisonian Institute. When I called. Mr Piatt
asked me how I was getting along with General Wright, meaning to
enquire if I had secured a position with liim. I told him I had ac-
complished nothing. He asked me if I knew who the contractors
were. My reply was: "I dont know but one, and that is General
Vverill " ' He then said "Do you know where he is stopping?" I
replied, "At the Ebbitt House." He then said "I will go and see
liim in person this evening." He then said, "You are the very
man I wanted to see; I was just thinking of you when your name was
sent to my room." He asked me if I liad seen the letter from Nor-
folk s'nmod "Paxton," in the Xational Republican. My reply was,
"No sTr." Whereupon he handed me the paper containing th.- let-
ter, and at the same time showed me the card of the Hon. John
Goode and a letter of John F. Dezendorf. published in the Norfolk
Day Book. He then said. "I will now tell you what 1 want, upon
the lionor of a Mason." My reply w;is, "1 am no Mason, ' He said,

"This letter of 'Paxton' has caused considerable excitement in Mr.
Goode's District. I want some one to assume the responsibility.
Knowing you to be a gallant ex-Confederate, and not afraid to
fight, I thought you would not object. If I were to assume the re-
sponsibility, and get into a duel with Mr. Goodo, it would disqualify
me from holding office in Virginia You being a resident of Wash-
ington, it would not effect you. If I go to Virginia to fight Mr.
Goode, and should kill him, I would immediately be arrested and
hung, or sent to the penitentiary: but, if Mr. Goode siiuuld kill
me, nothing would be done with him."" Let what may come, I will
back you." I said, "Very well '' He said, "Can you call here thit;
evening? I will have the letter prepared for you," (meaning the
second letter of Paxton) "which you can copy; we will then go to
the Bepublican office and I will have it published." 1 said, "Yes."
On my return that evening he showed me the manuscript of the
second letter in his handwriting, and asked me to sit and copy it.
I took the chair to do so. lie gave me paper and walked into the
adjacent room. I wrote two or three lines, and thought within my-
self, "what am I doing. He is taking advantage of my poverty,
and trying to compel me to do a dishonorable act. I will catch him
in his own trap." I then arose, walked into the adjacent room
where he was sitting, and told him I was too nervous to write, but
I will have it copied for you. His reply was "no; I could not trust
anyone with this." He then said, "Can you meet me at the Repub-
lican office to-night?" I replied, "Yes," and bade him good even-
ing. I called at the Repuldiran office and asked the clerk if Mr
Piatt had been there. He said, "I have not seen him." I waited
sometime, and seeing nothing of him went back to the clerk and
asked him to ascertain if he was in the building. Word came back
"yes; who wishes to see me?" I gave my name and was asked up
stairs, when he introduced me to two gentlemen. He then pulled
out the manuscri])t and asked me to look over it, which I did. He
then stated to the two gentlemen, this is the coinmuuicatian
which I copied for him. meaning me. It was then delivered to the
gentleman whom I su]iposed to be the editor. He received it, and
it appeared in the liepiibUran the next morning. Mr. Piatt and
myself then left the office and walked to the northeast corner of 13th
street and Pennsylvania avenue, where I bade him good night.
Before leaving he said, "Come to my room in the morning, and I
will give you the letter to General Averill." I did go to his room,
and received from him the following letter to General Averill:

11 OS F. Street, Washington, D. C, [
August 2Uh, 1876. \

Qen. 0. J. Averill, Ebbitt House:

My Dr.vr Generaf.— The bearer, Capt. Wm. H. Coe, is the gen
tleman about whom I spoke to you yesterday. Any favor sliown
him will l)e fully appreciated bv vours, truly,

.Iamhs H. Pi, ATT.

I also received from him at tlie same time the following draft in
bis blind writing of the note to l)e writlfu bv me lu Mr. Goode in

case he should make a demand ui)on "Paxton," in (•()mi)lianco with
the terms proposed in his second letter


Sir — Your communication of , addressed to Paxton, is re-
ceived. I have referred the same to Hon. James II. Piatt, who will
commanicate with you on my behalf, Very respectfully yours.

Before bidding me good niglit, after leaving the Republican office
on the night of the 2od, he said, ''now you have an opportunity of
making yourself. And on the morning of the 24th, after giving me
the letter to General Averill, he said, "If this does not secure you
a position, you shall have a place in the N^orfolk Navy yard, if there
is not another man employed there"

I will only add that I have volunteered to make this statement,
and that I do so in order that I may be extricated from the trap
into which Mr. Plattsought to inveigle mc, and in order that justice
may be done to all parties.

William H. Coe.

Subscribed and sworn to this 29th day of August, A. D. 187(1.
before me.

L. D. Starke,

Notary Public.


We have presented our readers in theabove publication one of the
most astounding evidences of wickedness and depravity ever given
to the public through the columns of the press. The narrative of
Captain Coe is full of internal proof of its authenticity, and we all
know that Mr. Piatt is the only person in the world who could have
had sufficient motive to assail Mr. Goode in the bitter and vindictive
spirit manifested in his recent letters over the nnm de plume "Pax-
ton.'' Captain Coe exhibited credentials while hero which leave no
room to question the jiosition he occupied during the days of the
Confederacy, and genrlemen who are familiar with the handwriting
of Mr. Piatt say that there is no doubt the originals of the letters
embodied in the above are from the })en of the ex-member. As the
case stands it reveals a diabolical plot not only to wound Mr. Goodc
in his most tender sensibilities, but to secure his murder on the held
to which the letters of " Paxton " were destined to provoke him.
This is a revelation of wickedness which, however, is in perfect har-
mony with those communications, and we are justified in asking if
the Grand Jury should not enquire into the conspiracy ©f Mr. Piatt
to secure the destruction of his successful rival. It seems to us that
he should \\o'^ only be held up to the scorn of all the world, but that
a grave inquisition into the meditated offence should be made by the
proper authorities. The meditated crime, above charged, is one of
peculiar and awful atrocity in its conception, and the author of so

infamous u conception can never aijuin lift up his head in this, or
any community, but he must continue to bear the reputation of a
man ea;^er to play the i)art of Cain by proxy, and to destrov an
honorable gentleman by the convenient pistol of a l)rave man re-
ducetl to poverty by the fortunes of war. How to characterize suc'a
conduct we do not know. Lani^uaj^e is too poor to express the feel-
ing wliich will burn in the bosoms of all honest men, and we leave
Mr. Piatt to remorse and mortification, while we congratulate Mr.
Goode. in the name of the District, on the happy discovery which
has been made — a discovery which, so far as the identitv of Piatt
and Paxton is concerned, was fully anticipated in the communitv
and predicted, even by Kepublicans, before it was given to the public.

Editorial from the Norfolk (Va. ) Landmark, of September 2d, 1876.


There are cases on record of ingenious people who have set spring
guns to shoot other people, and who have been shot themselves by
means of their own contrivance. Mr. Platt-Paxton, or Paxton-Platt,
as 3'ou prefer, is an illustration of this, and his mutilated remains
are now ex])Osed to the gaze of an outraged people by an indignant
press. From all quarters we hear the same expressions of horror and
amazement, and he stands convicted on his own confession not onl}'
of having actually perpetrated an unparaleled meanness, but of
having also i)remcditatcd a most atrocious crime. He shows in his
public confession that he assailed Mr. Goode in the most tender
and delicate relations with a maligiutnt perversion of the truth
(which will reach Mr. Goode's constituents in due season;) and
for this he is entitled to the scorn of all honest men. But base and
unmanly as this was, it fades into insignificance eonpared with
Paxton-Platt's premeditated murder of his successful rival. This he
conceded fully in his card which we published yesterday, and we
are greatly in error if he is not yet brought to the bar of a competent
Court to answer an indictment for his diabolical conspiracy. In the
meantime, however, while he was making his elaborate defence, it is
very curious that he has dealt with Captain Coe in a tone of such
great moderation, lie nowhere denounces that gentleman in a spe-
cial and direct manner; nor does he ujf'er to prmluir tlio. oriyiiinl
letters which he would have us believe he copied, altered and amen-
ded from the drafts furnished him, as he alleges, by Captain Coe.
Not only does he fail to offer to produce these but he fails to tell
us that he jireserved them, in which particular he dilTers f rom Ca])-
lain Coe, who retained the pai>ers drawn by Piatt, which were
identified as in his handwriting, before he (Piatt) admitted them,
and are now in possession of .Mr. Goi)de. At this date it would l)e
too late for Mr. Piatt to bring forward any such documents, v/ritten
in a "back hand," for it is plain that the njan who couhl arrange
to have a successful competitor murdered is ojual to the device (»f
producing U'lers *-in pencil" to suit his purpose. If Platt-Paxton,
or Paxton-Platt, IkhI had any such papers ho would have so stated.

and would have hastened to produce them in tlie hejjfinninpr. But.
after all. this i,* a minor matter. He admits the copyings tlic alter-
ing, the amending of the letters, which really means that he wrote
them. He admits in his own words tluit he asked Cajitain Coe in
the l)egining if ho 'Ucas propdred to hike the full respoiisihilih/ of the
publication. He concedes with equal frankness tluit he believed
those shameful letters would '^compel notice from Mr. Goode"
and that he Piatt, arranged with the editor of the liepublicun that
^'any conimunicat'On whiih might come to Paxton loas to he sent to
Coe." Then, says Mr. Piatt in his confession, I was to notify icho-
ever it might he ///«/ "William H. Coe w^.s the ai<thor of the I'axton
letters". And for what jjurpose? We have already anticipated the
answer to this question. The object was to have Mr. Goode mur-
dered in a street encountei-. or upon the "iield of honor.*' The
proof of this is in >Ir.Goode's possession in the shape of the note,
drawn by Piatt, alnady quoted; but it is so devilish in tone and
meaning and ingenuity, that we copy it again:

Washingtox, D. C.

Sir — Your communication of — , addressed to Faxton, is received.
I have referred the same to Hon. James H. Piatt, icho will commnni-
cate with you on my behalf. Very respectfully yours.

Murder as a fine art — assassination as the resort of cowardice and
hate, stand revealed in the evidence we have here arrayed, and we
call on the public to observe that, aside from the Coe statement, the
foundation of these charges has been furnished by Mr. Paxton-
*Platt in his letter to Mr Nichols. Out of his own mouth he staud.s
condemned, and we are curious to know how far the better elascC.s
of the Republican j)arty will deport themselves in this businci^s.
Will they admit Piatt any longer to fellowship and communion in
their party? Will they entertain his accpiaintance and accord him
their regaril? Will they a]»])rove the adroit but infernal method he
invented of avenging himself on a successful rival? In a word,
will they tolerate the Paxton-Platt method of murdering by proxy?
These are questions which should be an.-wered without regard to
party divisions. They are issues in morals which the community
will expect the Pe])ublicans to meet: and, enlarging our view, the
Associate Editor of the National liepublican will be specially looked
to for a vindication of his own character in connection with his con-
spiracy It may well be that he has been the (\\\yc of Piatt, but
after a full exauiination of all the testimony, especially after a com-
parison of Piatt's confession with Coe's statement, Mr. Davidson
must see that he has a question in Ethics and Religion before him
which he must need answer, not to the public opinion of Mr.
Goode's District, but to his own conscience and to the public judg-
ment of the whole country, for this Paxton-Platt-^Iurder-By-Proxy-
Business is a light that cannot be hid under a bushel, for, indeed
^nd in truth, it is a candle set upon a hill.


013 744 262



Online LibraryLouis Arthur CoolidgeThe record of James H. Platt → online text (page 1 of 1)