Moss, Thomas Overton
Correspondence, Documents, Papers and Ephemera, of attorney Thomas Overton Moss, of Richmond, Virginia, some of which concerns his work while he was on the staff of Virginia Governor Henry Flood Byrd, 1917-1928

112 letters, 117 pp. (mostly typed), dated 8 December 1917 to 30 October 1928, plus 33 documents, papers, and ephemera. The bulk of correspondence concerns Thomas O. Moss seeking appointments for himself in the Naval Reserve, or on the staff of Governor Byrd’s administration, after working on the governor’s successful campaign, and political matters including: Moss helping others to obtain appointments in the state government, fundraising for candidates, attempts to secure the African American vote, and political issues.

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Thomas O. Moss (1893-1939)

Thomas Overton Moss was born on 13 October 1893, at Beaverdam, Hanover County, Virginia. He was the son of Thomas Overton Moss (1839-1915) and his wife Nina Wood (-1930). Thomas O. Moss senior, served in the Confederate Army as a 1st Lieutenant in Company G, 23rd Virginia Infantry Regiment, under General Stonewall Jackson’s Command and being among the soldiers at the surrender at Appomattox. Moss Jr. was the grandson of Robert Field Moss and Frances White of Louisa County.

The younger Moss attended Bedford Academy and Hampden-Sydney College where he became a member of Phi Kappa Sigma. After Hampden-Sydney, he attended and graduated from the T.C. Williams Law School, at University of Richmond, in 1915. He remained in Richmond and began the practice of law.

When America entered World War One, we find Moss seeking an appointment to the United States Navy.  He enlisted at Norfolk on 13 December 1917 in the United States Naval Reserve and first served at the headquarters of the Fifth Naval District, Norfolk. He served overseas from Jan to Aug 1918, serving on the U.S.S. Middlesex and on 12 September 1918 was discharged from the Naval Reserve in order that he might accept appointment as ensign in the United States Navy. In that rank he served with the Third Naval District and at the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, and on 24 December 1918, was placed on inactive duty, receiving his honorable discharge from the service. Moss later joined the Naval Reserves being commissioned a Lieutenant in the Volunteer Naval Reserves on 17 February 1926, whereby later he sought to get promoted to Lieutenant Commander. He served as Lieutenant – Legal Section, U.S. Naval Reserves, Aide-de-Camp, to Governor Harry F. Byrd.

After the war Moss returned to Richmond to his law practice and became active in local and state politics.  He would go on to become a member of three former Virginia Governor's staffs; Governor John Garland Pollard (1930-1934), Governor Harry F. Byrd (1926-1930) and Governor George C. Peery (1934-1938). Moss at one point was associated with Leith S. Bremner (1888-1968) one of the best-known defense lawyers in Richmond.

Moss married to Virginia Belle Johnson (1898-1986) in 1918 and the couple divorced about 1931. His wife remarried the following year to Donald Ferris McCord (1898–1961). Moss married a second to a woman by the name of Louise. He is also stated to have married a third time on 9 August 1937 to Doris Braur Mann of Washington D.C., and they had an adopted daughter.

Thomas O. Moss became ill while working at the Law &Equity Court and died of a heart attack while in his office at Richmond, Virginia, on 23 June 1939. He was buried at Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond.

 

         Description of Collection:

10 letters, 10 pp., dated 8 December 1917 to 14 May 1918; mostly typed recommendation letters written by various individuals for Thomas Overton Moss.

102 letters, 107 pp., dated 4 January 1925 to 30 October 1928; mostly typed letters, of the 102 letters, 55 of them are retained copies written by Thomas O. Moss to others; the remaining 47 letters are incoming letters to Moss.

Of the 55 outgoing letters (57 pp.) that Moss writes, he wrote 13 letters to Virginia Governor Harry Flood Byrd between 4 January 1925 and 6 October 1927, before and during Byrd’s term as governor. Moss worked to get Byrd elected and his letters to Byrd are mainly inquiries seeking Byrd’s help to get various appointments from the governor for individuals who were Byrd supporters, including positions for Moss himself.

Moss also writes to various individuals in Virginia and these letters concern various aspects of statewide politics: helping people obtain appointments in Governor Byrd’s administration, fundraising political activities, and seeking an appointment for himself as an officer in the Naval Reserve. These letters that Moss writes concern mostly politics, helping people get appointments with Governor Byrd’s administration, fundraising for political candidates, other political activities, seeking help himself for officer appointments in the Naval Reserve, etc.

There are 12 letters written to Moss by Harry Flood Byrd, Governor of Virginia; Byrd’s letters were written between 18 August 1925 to 29 October 1928, both before and during his term as Governor of Virginia. Byrd writes to Moss thanking him for his work helping Byrd get elected, at one point stating: “I do not know of any one who did more for me in the campaign than you did.” Byrd also writes to Moss that any recommendations for appointments he has will be looked at very seriously. Byrd also seeks out Moss’ advice on his campaign, his thoughts on the Republicans in his area, his help in making a guest list for his inauguration, on making Moss a member of his staff, Byrd’s help in getting Moss a promotion in the Naval Reserves, etc.

          The Collection also includes related documents, papers, and ephemeral materials

 

            Sample Quotes:

“Harry F. Byrd, Winchester, Virginia, August 18, 1925

 

Mr. T.O. Moss

American Nat. Bank Bldg.

Richmond, Virginia

 

Dear Tom:

 

I have just returned from a short vacation and I want to again thank you for the magnificent work you did int eh campaign.

I am tremendously please with my majority in Hanover, which was much better than I expected. This reflects great credit on you.

 

I do not know of anyone who did more for me in the campaign than you did.

 

I hope to see you the first time I am in Richmond and tender to you in person my heartfelt thanks. I would appreciate the opportunity of being closely associated with you in the future and of having your advice and counsel in the problems that will come up.

 

With kind personal regards, I am sincerely, your friend, H.F. Byrd”

 

 

October 13th, 1925, Hon. Harry Byrd, Winchester, Va.

 

Dear Harry,

 

I have your letter of the 8th. From what I hear from Hanover, and in the City of Richmond, there seems to be no disaffection regarding the Democratic ticket. I am very fearful, however, that in the county as well as in the city, the vote will be small. I shall do all within my power in Hanover to get out the vote.

 

There is practically no Republican strength in Hanover, and their vote will be negligible. I am taking up this matter with our precinct workers, and am asking them to get out as large a vote as is possible. Of course, you know in November it is hard to get farmers to the polls. They seem to think it is useless because of the certain election of the Democratic ticket. However, you may rest assured that we will do all we can. I am anxious to see you secure a big majority, and I know that you will.

 

At this time please accept my sincere thanks for your letter of the 1st, regarding Mr. Mack Hobson. He sincerely appreciates your letter, and will call this matter to your attention sometime in November. I would have written you a letter of thanks before this, but have been right busy in court in the last few weeks.

 

I have been to see your father twice, but could not see him. I have inquired after him a number of times, and I understand he is improving.


With kind regards, I am sincerely yours, [Thomas O. Moss]”

 

 

“February 15th, 1926

 

Senator Claude A. Swanson

United States Senate

Washington, D.C.


My dear Senator:

 

With regard to the matter of my telephone conversation with you this morning, I thought I would write you just what has been done. The Commandant of the Fifth Naval District has recommended me to the Navy Department for a commission as Lieutenant, legal officer, special service, Volunteer Naval Reserve.


I am very anxious thought that you go with me to the Navy Department. It will be necessary I imagine that we see the officer in charge of the Judge Advocate General’s Department of the Navy. I tell you this so that you will know with whom to make the appointment.


I will see you Wednesday morning a little after ten. I think my train will arrive there at 9:50, if on time.


I am deeply appreciative of your interest in this matter. I hope some day to re-pay you for all the things that you have done for me.


Sincerely, [Thomas O. Moss]”

 

“June 27th 1926 Sunday

 

My dear Murry:

 

I asked Lester to ‘phone me when you came in town, but I have heard nothing from you. You will recall I promised to raise $100.00 for the Ninth District Campaign Fund out of Hanover County. I have been there, but it is extremely hard to interest my people. I have gotten nothing as yet. However, I am enclosing my check for $50.00 as a personal contribution and if I am unable to get anything from Hanover, another $50.00 will be sent you by me in order to carry out my obligation of $100.00. Am sorry that this matter has been delayed. I assure you, however, that I have used my very best efforts.


Whenever you are in the City, I would be mighty glad to see you. With kind personal regards, I am,

 

Sincerely, [Thomas O. Moss]

 

Hon. J. Murry Hooker

Stuart, Virginia”

“February 22, 1927

 

PERSONAL

 

Mr. J. Z. Johnson

Beaver Dam, Virginia

 

Dear Mr. Johnson:

 

The matter of the candidate for Legislature at Hanover is worrying us considerably and we are very anxious to have someone announce for the position who is a friend of the Governor and who will support his policies. We are very fearful that Carter, if re-elected, will not do so, and you know his disposition towards us and towards the Governor; and for that purpose, a conference is desired in Richmond on Friday of this week, the 25th, and we are very anxious for you to be present. If you can possibly do so, I should be very grateful to you, as will be the Governor.


I would suggest that you be at my office about noon on Friday.


Please regard this as confidential.


Sincerely yours [Thomas O. Moss]

 

 

 

“Commonwealth of Virginia

Governor’s Office

Richmond

 

October 29, 1928

 

Mr. Thomas O. Moss

State-Planters Bank Building

Richmond, VA

 

Dear Tom:

 

I am enclosing herewith letter from Mr. H. T. Garnett. I would appreciate it if you would write him.

 

Sincerely yours, H.F. Byrd

 

[enclosed letter]

 

Commonwealth of Virginia

House of Delegates

Richmond

 

Oct 26/28

 

Governor H.F. Byrd

Richmond, Va.

 

Dear Governor,

 

Yours of the 24th with enclosure duly received and I am very glad to get it and am in hopes to get good results. Do you know of an intelligent negro in your city that is for Smith who you could get a letter from advising the negroes to vote for Smith? If we could get such a letter, we could use it to good effect. If such a thing is possible, I would like to have 50 copies of same.

 

Very sincerely, H.T. Garnett”

 

 

“Commonwealth of Virginia

Governor’s Office

Richmond

 

October 29, 1928

 

Hon. Thomas O. Moss,

State – Planters Bank Building

Richmond, Va.

 

Dear Tom:

 

I enclose you one of the circulars that are being distribute all throughout the mountains of the State. This is the matter I mentioned the other day.

 

Sincerely yours, H.F.B. [Henry F. Byrd]

 

[enclosed circular]

 

Why Va. Voters Are For Hoover!

 

Because the Democratic State Machine is trying to deliver us into the hands of Tammany and its corrupt political machine.

 

Because former Pres. Woodrow Wilson warned us against the danger of ever falling into Tammany’s power or under its influence. Pres Wilson not only condemned Tammany but on one occasion refused to sit at a dinner table at which Tammany was represented.

 

Because Tammany and its Candidate believe in social equality between whites and blacks.

 

Because Ferdinand Q. Morton, a negro, and Civil Service Commissioner, New York City, is connected with Tammany and Tammany has given him a white woman as his private secretary.

 

Because there are 276 negro appointees holding positions in New York City under Tammany rule.

 

Because the Mayor of New York and a member of Tammany said to a big negro gathering in New York on August 15 this year, this: ‘After the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November – I won’t say what is going to happen – but I can assure you now that you will be as welcome in the White House as you are here in New York City.”

 

Because Robert J. Nelson, a negro, Editor of the Washington Eagle, is to manage the campaign among the negroes for Tammany’s candidate in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

 

Because Neval Thomas, a negro, President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, is pleading for the negroes over the country to support the National Democratic Ticket because Mr. Hoover does not believe in social equality.

 

Because here in Virginia in the last white Democratic State primary, negroes were permitted to participate in the election…

 

Because the White, Self-respecting, true Democrats of this State are not yet ready to surrender White Supremacy of the South to the negro-loving Tammany Tiger of the North….


Vote for Hoover – Nov. 6th.”