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Chapter 188: Side Trip to D.C.

6:15 am.
July 3, 1912
The Raleigh Hotel
Washington, D.C.

Walter Kehoe
Kehoe and Wilson
700-702 American National Bank Building
Pensacola, Florida

Dear Walter:

Mayes, Tommie Crawford, and myself are sharing a suite of two bedrooms and a parlor; while everyone is still asleep, I thought to write you a quick letter on our goings-on for the next few days in case you have questions from anyone. The rest of our delegation is on the way home, and should be back to Florida tomorrow. Mayes, meanwhile, thought it best that we stay over a few extra days so that he could personally introduce me to important people he knows who staff certain committees, as well as the congressional delegation.

And, he says, what better way to spend the 4th of July holiday than in the most patriotic of cities, the Nation’s Capital? Mayes has a point. But Walter, Washington is a most humid and uncomfortable place to be in July. And no wonder, with all the stories about it being built upon a drained swamp (Ed. note: Not true.)

Mayes got us accommodations at The Raleigh Hotel; it’s very nice, and located near the White House. Elegant, discreet, and peopled by those with lots of important connections. Expensive, but selected on purpose to be near the downtown newspaper offices as well.

But he’s promised to take us to watch the Washington Senators play the New York Highlanders at National Park tomorrow afternoon!

Griffith Stadium, originally known as National Park, was at the corner of Georgia and Florida Avenues N.W.; it was the Washington Senators home field from 1911 to 1961. It was renamed Griffith Stadium in 1920. Today, it’s the home of Howard University Hospital. Image source:

The days in Baltimore were hectic and exciting; the entire time at the Convention was highly energetic. It ended as it began; energetically. I found myself easily swept up into the events the moment I stepped off the train, as I mentioned in the previous letter.

Oddly enough, I felt sad and empty after it was all over and Mayes, Tommie and myself were on the train headed towards Washington, though the train was crowded, hot, and full of convention-goers headed home. Certainly; some of them got off at Union Station as we did with the goal of networking with congressional contacts we’d met in Baltimore. But Mayes said that our visit was twofold: Business and pleasure, promising us a fine time at the baseball park, and the fireworks and festivities later in the evening. He believes we’ll have excellent viewing positions for the fireworks on the National Mall, given that Bryan and Fletcher’s staff know we are in town!

John Thomas Gavin Crawford, also known as “Tommie” to his family and friends, was another young lawyer (and close friend of Emmett’s) who political fortunes were rising. Source: The Pensacola Journal, 1908, via

But. We’re still on display, Mayes said to Tommie and myself, and I caught Mayes knowingly looking at me. I swear, Walter, I did not do anything untoward or obvious in Baltimore, and I did not imbibe but once or twice in public, alongside my fellows at the Convention events. Everything else I kept to my room, or, discretely. A man is expected to enjoy himself away from home now and then; I did nothing untoward, and certainly, nothing that drew attention. I would think that Mayes would have pulled me aside and let me know if I had.

This morning, we’re going to the Senate building to meet with Nathan Bryan and Duncan Fletcher’s staff, as both are in their districts this week as you well know; we’ll likely head over the House later today. I’m expected to meet the Dannite Mays’ staff and spend most of my time there. I’m especially anxious to meet Mays’ chief of staff, one of whom we’ve known for a long time from Marianna days — you know him, Walter —Jeff Stephens. Both Ceph and Mayes said the same thing you did back in May, that I might keep him on in that position, since he knows everything and everyone. I know Stephens and Mays are close and have a good relationship; Stephens feels quite loyal to the old man and I understand that. But still: I have no idea who to name from the district in supporting positions.

As you and Ceph said in the past, I’m going to need folks who know Washington and the players here. I am loath to dismiss that kind of institutional knowledge just because I won the contest and Mays lost.

Jefferson Davis Stephens. He ran for congress several times, before and after Emmett’s tenure as U.S. Congressman, and was Dannite Mays’ chief-of-staff. Stephens would later run for Emmett’s seat after Emmett announced his ‘retirement’ in 1916, while still serving as Emmett’s private secretary. I wonder if that was awkward for the two of them working in the same office. Source: Author’s photo from microfilm ofThe Pensacola Journal, 1908.

Stephens knows me as an upstart, though, and only as Ceph’s ambitious younger brother. He’s always been courteous, even if he didn’t honestly feel that way towards me. My understanding is that he sees us Wilsons as political dynasty-builders, and Ceph often said that at least Stephens is honest about expressing his point of view to our faces.

No matter what, I know this is a time for building relationships; I will do my best with Stephens. I have a lot to learn from him, and that may be the way to go. All I can do at this point is ask if he’ll consider staying on, at least for a few months, until I become settled.

Mayes is up asking if I want to go downstairs for breakfast, and so I’ll close now so as to get this off in the morning mail. I’ll write again before we leave for home.


Categories: Book Congressman Florida History In Emmett's Words

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Communication, Arts, and the Humanities
The University of Maryland Global Campus

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