Cleveland, O[hio]: Plain Dealer --- Extra, Sept. 17, 1866. Broadside. 58 x 15 cm. Matted, glazed and framed. A small stain from paper clip at lower left of text, else very good. Custer's rebuttal to J.W. Forney, Secretary of the United States Senate, dated August 20, 1866, regarding his testimony before the Congressional Committee on Reconstruction concerning states' rights for Texas and western Louisiana. Signed G.A. Custar [sic]. OCLC lists copies Yale, Newberry, Univ. of Michigan, Baylor Univ. Item #63717
During Reconstruction, Custer supported President Andrew Johnson and the National Union Party, on whose platform he and Lincoln had been elected. The party favored restoring self-government to all the states which had seceded, providing only that they abolish slavery and submit to a few minor requirements.
Custer attended a mass meeting in Detroit on August 9, 1866, to endorse the National Union platform, and was appointed one of four delegates to the national convention scheduled to meet in Philadelphia on August 14. Delegates from Massachusetts and South Carolina walked into the hall arm-in-arm. The Radical press deplored this mingling with defeated traitors, falsely reporting that Mosby was among the delegates. "With five others, [Custer] proudly signed his name to a call for all ex-soldiers and sailors to attend a grand rally in Cleveland on September 17, the anniversary of McClellan's victory at Antietam." [cf. Jay Monaghan, in his biography "Custer: The Life of General George Armstrong Custer," (Boston: 1959), pp. 269-79; including cited newspaper accounts on August 13, 15, 17 and 22, 1866]: "While the response by radical Republicans was strident and swift, at this time Custer was not dissuaded from his chosen course, nor did he trim. The day following our call to convention, on August 20, Custer wrote a letter that was printed on the opening day of the convention, September 17, as an Extra of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, entitled "Custer's reply to the atrocious attempts of the corrupt or insane radical press to pervert his testimony..." The report on the Cleveland rally published in the New York Times on Sept. 17, 1886 notes: "The demonstration at Cleveland will be a response on the part of those whose services best entitle them to consideration as champions of the Union cause. The statesmen have said that on the ground alike of principle and of expediency the early restoration of the full measure of constitutional privilege to the South is desirable. The soldiers and sailors, to whose skill, endurance, and valor we owe the victorious issue of the war, now meet to delare that this policy is their policy, and that their strength shall be arrayed against the combinations and efforts of the Radical disunionists."
The animosity between the National Unionists and the Radical Republicans over Reconstruction nearly cost President Johnson his office. Custer had irretriveably lost his wider political support when he joined with the National Unionists, and was bitterly assailed by extreme Radical journals. A month after the Cleveland rally, in October 1866, Custer boarded the train for Fort Riley, Kansas, to join the 7th Cavalry. On June 29, 1869, Custer applied through Gen. William T. Sherman to President Grant for an appointment as Commandant of West Point. Grant, who did not like Custer, denied the appointment and kept Custer at distance amongst the Indians in the politically remote West. Almost exactly seven years later, on June 25, in the centennial year of American independence, Custer rode to his fate, and into the history books.