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Charles W. Chesnutt to Albion W. Tourgée, 24 May 1897

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  CHAS. W. CHESNUTT, 1024 SOCIETY FOR SAVINGS BLDG Hon. A. W. Tourgee, Mayville, N.Y. Dear Sir:-

I learn from the newspapers that you have been appointed U. S. Consul to Bordeaux, France. While it is not what I understood you had made application for,1 I have no doubt, from what I know personally of Glasgow, that so far as climate and natural surroundings are concerned, you will find Bordeaux a much pleasanter place to live in; for Glasgow, even in midsummer, is in appearance as sordid and depressing a place as I ever saw. I suspect, too, that your daughter, if she accompanies you, will like it better; and no doubt we will have in the course of time some Franco-American literature from the family.

With cordial congratulations, I remain,

Sincerely yours, Chas. W. Chesnutt.

Correspondent: Albion Winegar Tourgée (1838–1905) was a White activist, author, and judge. During Reconstruction, he settled in North Carolina and became an advocate for racial equality. Tourgée wrote his bestselling autobiographical novel, A Fool's Errand (1879), before moving to Mayville, New York, in 1881. He published 15 more novels in the next 17 years, and several times attempted to found magazines, often inviting Chesnutt to serve as editor. In 1891, he founded the National Citizens' Rights Association, an organization devoted to equality for African-American citizens, and in 1896 served as Homer Plessy's lead counsel in the U.S. Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson (1896).

1. Aimee Tourgee, Albion W. Tourgee's daughter, wrote to Chesnutt on February 22 to solicit a letter of support for her father's appointment of U.S. Consul to Glasgow, Scotland. She also mentioned that Harry C. Smith and other prominent African Americans were organizing futher endorsements.[back]