Mount Airy, N.C.
February 20, 1920
Hon. T. W. Bickett,
My dear Governor:-
Replying to your favor of the 18th to Mr. Varner, I am glad you wrote him as you did. I am sorry our board took this matter up. I have had a hard time, Governor, fighting this proposition, and I have gone through quite an ordeal. I appreciate very much the position you have taken, and you stand exactly as I have stood all the while. I regret that Mr. Collie has continued to believe that this was a proposition we should take up. I talked to Mr. Collie confidentially about this matter, and asked him to stop it. I know the history of these things in different states. I have had quite an experience with them. However, I am sure of the fact your letter will induce Mr. Varner, as chairman of our board, to withdraw it. I hope so anyway.
I am sorry our board ever let Mr. Jewell have any convicts. I am sure of the fact we will be highly criticised for this action, as we gave out the news we wanted to sell the farm and put these convicts on the roads, and the people are wanting them and calling for them. I am almost sure we will be criticised on this act as much as on anything we have done.
I believe, if we have no further bad luck in regard to the sale of the farm and the purchase of the new far, we have done a wonderful thing for the state of North Carolina and the people will see it sooner or later. In fact, I feel proud of my part in it.
I am sorry Mr. Varner and some of our board don't realize that we should get out of the old state prison, when the State Legislature and the people of our State have said, by their acts, that we shall move out of it. He can't realize the fact that the Legislature knows more about it than the state prison board. I am certainly in favor of moving these prisoners and carrying out the law to the letter, as the state Legislature passed it.
I trust you will be in Raleigh on the second of March. Should this matter be called up again, those fellows from Louisville might force some trouble on us.
I will keep your letter to Mr. Varner in strick confidence.
With kindest personal regards to you, I am
A. E. Smith