This collection contains family, personal, literary, and business correspondence and other papers (chiefly 1830-1886) of Taveau, of his father, Louis Augustin Thomas Taveau, and of their family. The collection centers around Augustin Louis Taveau and relates to his education, activities as a poet, European travels (1852-1854), career in the Confederate Army, postwar condemnation of Confederate leaders, removal to Maryland (1866), and agricultural efforts. Other subjects include family and legal matters, social life and customs in South Carolina, the education of Southern girls, rice planting before the Civil War, planting in Mississippi and Louisiana (1850s), agriculture and scientific farming in Maryland, Charleston during the Civil War, postwar politics, and other matters. Correspondents and persons mentioned in this collection include William Aiken, Josias Allston, Henry L. Benbow, A. R. Chisholm, Ralph Elliott, Nathan George Evans, J. A. Gadsden, Horace Greeley, William Gregg, Thomas S. Grimké, Robert Y. Hayne, O. W. Holmes, W. H. Huger, Robert Hume, T. J. Hyland-MacGrath, Andrew Johnson, Carolina Olivia Ball Laurens, Eliza G. Maybank, James L. Petigru, J. J. Pettigrew, William Gilmore Simms, Clifford Simons, Keating L. Simons, Admiral Joseph Smith, Horatio Sprague, John R. Thompson, and members of the Girardeau, Swinton, and Taveau families.
This collection contains family, personal, literary, and business correspondence of Louis Augustin Thomas Taveau (1790-ca. 1857), planter; of his wife, Martha Caroline (Swinton) Ball Taveau (d. 1847); of their son, Augustin Louis Taveau (1828-1886), planter and author; of the latter's wife, Delphine (Sprague) Taveau (1832-ca. 1909); and of relatives and friends.
Papers prior to 1829 consist of a copy of the will of William Swinton made in 1741 and letters between the Swinton and Girardeau families recording Charleston events, the marriage settlement of Martha Caroline (Swinton) Ball and Louis Augustin Thomas Taveau, and a copy of the will of Caroline Olivia (Ball) Laurens, daughter of Martha Caroline (Swinton) Ball Taveau by her first marriage. Beginning in June 1829, and continuing for more than a year, the collection contains letters to Martha Caroline (Swinton) Ball Taveau from her husband, Louis Augustin Thomas Taveau, while he was in France endeavoring to settle his father's estate.
In 1838 the papers begin to center around Augustin Louis Taveau (1828-1886), while in school at Mt. Zion Academy, Winnsboro, South Carolina and while later studying law and dabbling in poetry while living in or near Charleston, South Carolina and touring Europe from 1852 to 1854. From 1855 until 1860, the papers contain correspondence with the publisher of Taveau's book of poems, The Magic Word and Other Poems (Boston, 1855), published under the pseudonym of 'Alton,' correspondence with the Sprague family in an effort to obtain the remainder of Delphine (Sprague) Taveau's patrimony, papers relative to a mortgage on Oaks Plantation held by Robert Hume, letters relative to the failure of Simons Brothers in Charleston in 1857 and the consequent loss of Oaks Plantation, letters of Taveau describing a trip to New Orleans (Louisiana), with his slaves and their sale, letters of Taveau to his wife describing various plantations in Mississippi and Louisiana, and a series of letters in 1860 to and from Taveau, Ralph Elliott, and Clifford Simons regarding a supposedly slighting remark involving Taveau's credit.
Late in 1861 Taveau settled on a farm near Abbeville, South Carolina, but soon afterwards joined the Confederate Army. His career in the army continued until 1865. Letters to his wife during the war period, include Taveau's accounts of his efforts as a soldier, descriptions of Charleston during the war, copy of a letter evidently intended for a newspaper, protesting that gentlemen of birth and education could get no commissions in the army while sons of tinkers could; accounts of his duties as guard at the "SubTreasury" in Charleston; papers relating to an effort to permit Delphine (Sprague) Taveau and her three children to sail for Europe in December, 1864; and oaths of allegiance and passports issued to Taveau and his wife and children, March 3, 1865, for going to Boston, Massachusetts.
Immediately after the war, the papers contain letters and copies of letters published in the New York Tribune by Taveau under the title of A Voice from South Carolina, stating that former Southern leaders could not be trusted and condemning them for having allowed conscription. Included also are drafts of letters from Taveau to Horace Greeley and William Aiken; letters relative to Taveau's efforts to get the position of collector of the customs at Charleston; accounts of an interview of Taveau with Greeley and with President Andrew Johnson; letter of June 25, 1865, describing conditions in Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina; a copy of a petition signed by Henry L. Benbow, A. R. Chisholm, William Gregg, and Taveau begging President Johnson to appoint a provisional governor for South Carolina; several letters to and from William Aiken; and letters written by Taveau to his wife in the autumn of 1865 from various points in Virginia including areas near Richmond, Alexandria, and Warrenton, where he had gone in search of a farm.
Taveau and his family finally settled in 1866 on a farm near Chaptico in St. Mary's County, Maryland. From 1866 until 1881, the correspondence is concerned with efforts to obtain patents and money for developing a revolving harrow and a steam plow invented by Taveau; efforts to obtain money for meeting the annual interest on the sum owed for the farm near Chaptico; and accounts of Taveau's literary activities. There are letters and papers bearing on Taveau's efforts to interest the Ames Plow Company, as well as manufacturers of farm machinery in Dayton, Ohio, in his inventions and drawings and circulars relative to the inventions. From 1878 until Taveau's death, his papers contain manuscripts of his poems and correspondence with many leading publishing houses regarding the publication of Montezuma (published in New York in 1883 and again in 1931). Thereafter much of his correspondence consists of letters of thanks from various relatives, friends, and well-known literary figures for copies of Montezuma sent them by Taveau; and letters to newspapers and magazines submitting his poems and usually followed by letters of rejection.
Throughout the collection there are many letters from the mother and sisters of Delphine (Sprague) Taveau, usually in French. Letters of her brothers, however, were generally in English. Among the correspondents are William Aiken, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Johnston Pettigrew, William Gilmore Simms, Joseph Smith, and John R. Thompson. Also included are some Unpublished Letters of John R. Thompson and Augustin Louis Taveau, William and Mary College Quarterly, XVI (April 1936), 206-221; Letters of Georgia Editors and a Correspondent, Georgia Historical Quarterly, XXIII (June, 1939), [170-176.]