General James Bethune becomes legal guardian of Blind Tom Wiggins

On July 25, 1870, John Bethune had himself appointed Tom's legal guardian in a Virginia Probate Court, thereby negating the 1865 Indentureship Agreement. By now the Bethunes were realizing $50,000 yearly from Tom's concerts.

Upon Tom's twenty-first birthday and end of his indentured contract, General Bethune played another legal trump card and requested that the courts declare Tom legally insane and appoint himself as legal guardian. The courts complied. Tom continued to perform. Throughout his life Blind Tom would tour Great Britain, Scotland, Europe, Canada, the Rocky Mountain states, the far West, and South America. His repertoire included up to 7,000 pieces with approximately 100 of his own composition and he had added the coronet, French horn, and flute to his list of mastered instruments. His life consisted of concert stages, hotel rooms, and train rides. Tom's social graces remained undeveloped. He usually ate his meals in seclusion and required assistance in dressing before appearing onstage before his audiences.