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Holden pardon target of poison-pen letter

Posted March 22, 2011 4:05 p.m. EDT
Updated March 22, 2011 4:53 p.m. EDT

Updated below

The state Senate put off a vote on a pardon for former Gov. William Holden today. But it wasn't because of an anonymous letter left on Senate desks, citing two historians who apparently weren't Holden fans. 

The letter is pretty slanderous stuff. It notes that Holden, who was impeached 140 years ago for trying to stem racial violence during the Reconstruction, was a "bitter, unscrupulous, and arrogant demagogue," a "scalawag" who instituted a "reign of terror."  And that's just in the first three paragraphs.

Senate rules say nothing can be left on senators' desks by anyone but a senator, who must attach his or her name to it. No one took credit for this, but I'm told Senate security is checking the tapes of the chamber to see who passed it out.

Update: Apodaca now says the Senate floor camera wasn't working today. So perhaps we'll never know. 

Update: Credible Sources?  

The main scholar cited in the anonymous letter is J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton, a former UNC history chairman (1908-1930), whose research "praised the role of the Ku Klux Klan" in Reconstruction.   

Another scholar cited in the letter is Ellis Merton Coulter, a former Georgia professor who wrote a controversial 1954 school textbook that claimed "slavery greatly benefited southern blacks."  

Why the delay?

After session, Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson) said the Holden resolution was delayed over legal concerns. "We'll be overturning something done some 100-plus years ago by this body," Apodaca pointed out.  He says the measure might go to the Judiciary committee for "further evaluation."