In Whitman's Hand

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Title: Amos T. Akerman to Robert McPhail Smith, 24 November 1871

Date: November 24, 1871

Whitman Archive ID: nar.02614

Source: National Archives and Records Administration. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Anthony Dreesen, John Schwaninger, and Nima Najafi Kianfar

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Nov. 24, 1871.

R. McPhail Smith, Esq.

Nashville, Tenn.


Your letters of the 19th and 20th instants, to me, and of the 21st instant to the Solicitor General, have been received.

Though there is no obligation upon this Department to disclose the reasons why a change is made in a public office, I have no objection to stating the reasons for your suspension, so far as I am acquainted with them. You are aware that last spring very grave charges were made against you—and having some reason to distrust the motives of those who made them, I refused to act upon them until you should have a full opportunity for an explanation or denial. You promised to meet the charges, but never did, so far as I now remember, possibly for the reason that I was absent from Washington at the time when you visited this city. I refer to this simply to show my indisposition to advise the removal of an officer upon unproved charges of personal adversaries.

The transaction which has been lately brought to my notice in the Thomas case obliged me to suggest to the President the propriety of a change. Your explanation of that matter was not satisfactory, and according to the standard of professional ethics which is recognized here, the Government should not be represented by a gentleman who has made so serious a mistake.

I was not moved in the slightest degree by any thing in the Stokes and Beatty case, but my action was taken from my own views of propriety, without any suggestion whatever any suggestion whatever from the persons whom you supposed to have prompted it.

Very respectfully,

A. T. Akerman,

Attorney General.

Case of R. McP. Smith


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