Letter from Thomas W. Bickett to J. Bryan Grimes, 20 April 1918
April 20th, 1918.
Col J. Bryan Grimes,
My dear Col. Grimes:-
When I appointed Capt. Laughinghouse as a member of the Local Exemption Board for Pitt County, I was under the impression, if you would hold him around the neck and I would swing on to his coat tails, that jointly we might succeed in keeping him from sending every human being in Pitt County to the War. The results have been exactly to the contrary. In the first draft the Pitt county Board exhausted three times as many registrants to get their quota as the average in the State. In the second draft they placed at first only twelve per cent in the first class while the average in the State was thirty. A number of representatives of the War Department have made most unfavorable reports upon the attitude of Capt. Laughinghouse to the Board and its work. I have gotten a mass of letters from individuals throughout the county complaining about his attitude. I handed you a paper he wrote which was a severe criticism of the Government Appeal Agent. I personally ordered the newspapers not to print this criticism as it would have been a severe blow to the work the Government is trying to do.
On account of the attitude of Capt. Laughinghouse Mr. Wooten has tendered his resignation as Government Appeal Agent. Since that time it has been charged that Capt. Laughinghouse has repeatedly and arbitrarily changed the classification of men. Under all these circumstances, Colonel, I really think that Capt. Laughinghouse ought to resign as a member of the Board. I have the utmost confidence in his courage and in his integrity, but his lack of judicial temperament seems to be incurable and the situation down there has become very embarrassing to me. The office of the Provost Marshal General has repeatedly censured this situation and is wondering why I have not done something to cure it. I have tried to see you several times, but both of us have been so busy that it seems that it was impossible for us to get together.
If you could get Capt. Laughinghouse to quietly resign you would be doing him and the cause and me a very real service. Mr. Martin will advise you of my whereabouts, and you can communicate with me through him through him or personally. I think if Wooten and Capt. Laughinghouse both resign that we could straighten the situation in Pitt.
Very sincerely yours,