THE REBEL AND THE ROSE
James A. Semple, Julia Gardiner Tyler,
and the Lost Confederate Gold

By Wesley Millett and Gerald White
Introduction by Doug Wead,
author of
All the President's Children

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In April 1865 the Civil War was over for most Americans, including the more than 600,000 soldiers, North and South, who died from wounds or disease. Confederate President Jefferson Davis and much of his administration had fled Richmond, accompanied by an escort of cavalry, various hangers-on, and all that was left of the treasury.

With the Davis party was a navy paymaster, James A. Semple. In Washington, Georgia, a small town untouched by the war, he was entrusted with $86,000 in gold coin and bullion (about $1 million in today's money) and disappeared into the night. The treasure was secured in the false bottom of a carriage.

The Rebel and the Rose reveals for the first time what happened to the Confederate gold, until now a mystery. However, this historically accurate story is more than the accounting of a missing treasury. It is the story of a man on the run who stashes the gold and seeks to escape capture by fleeing through a devastated South swarming with Federal troops.

After hiding in Okefenokee Swamp for months, Semple eventually reaches Nassau. Ultimately, he takes refuge in the North with Julia Gardiner Tyler, the widow of former U.S. President John Tyler and stepmother of Semple's estranged wife, Letitia. Semple is drawn to Julia, and she to him, by circumstances of war and its aftermath.

Unable to accept the end of the Confederacy and Union domination of the South, Semple collaborates with other disenfranchised leaders exiled in Canada, often traveling between the U.S. and Canada in clandestine activities under the alias of Allen S. James. Whenever he can travel to New York City, he spends as much time as he can with Julia and her family.

The Rebel and the Rose focuses on the symbiotic bond that develops between Semple ("the Rebel") and Tyler ("the Rose"). With well-documented detail, Wesley Millett and Gerald White examine Semple's growing passion for Julia, the fury of Letitia over her husband's relationship with her stepmother, and the concerted effort in the past by members of the Tyler family to disguise the closeness that developed between the paymaster and the first lady.

 

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