January 14, 1895

Newly Convicted, a Defiant Alfred Dreyfus Swears to Clear His Name From the Unjust Stain of Treason

Autograph Letter Signed
3 pages
SMC 295
Newly convicted of treason, and freshly cashiered from the French Army in a public degradation ceremony, the innocent Dreyfus writes to his family from prison: although he suffers horribly, he is convinced the truth will be discovered, and so, with his head up, without weakening, he swears to clear his name of “the stain that has been inflicted upon it unjustly” and urges his family - with their heads, too, held higher than ever - to continue in the quest to prove his innocence. He will, then, with a “pure and clean conscience” persevere with “superhuman strength” to “bear all of this.” Suicide would have been easier, he says - “the end of everything, the forgetting of all suffering” - but he realizes that such a death would be an act of cowardice, and would leave “a dishonored name to my children.” Instead, he proclaims, “we will manage to discover the truth… on the tragic affair.”

Dreyfus was found innocent and finally exonerated, in full, in 1906 - at which point he was reinstated as a major in the French Army.
Autograph Letter Signed (“Alfred”), in French, 3 pages, quarto, Prison de la Sante, January 14, 1895. To his sister and brother-in-law, Henriette and Joseph Valabrègue.
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