Alexander H. Stephens papers, 1823-1954 (bulk 1823-1883)
Using These Materials
- Collection is open for research.
- Stephens, Alexander Hamilton, 1812-1883
Alexander H. Stephens (1812-1883) was a Georgia lawyer, politician and Vice President of the Confederate States of America.
The collection includes a large amount of correspondence as well as bills/receipts, financial papers, legal papers, political papers, clippings and printed material. It ranges in date from 1823 to 1954, with the bulk covering 1823-1883.
8 Linear Feet
approx. 3,000 Items
- Collection ID:
- Scope and Content:
The collection includes correspondence, bills and receipts, financial papers, legal papers, political papers, clippings and printed material and ranges in date from 1823-1954, with the bulk dated 1823-1883. Due to preservation concerns, some items were copied onto acid-free paper and stamped as preservation copies. The originals were placed in mylar and are located in Box 7. Patrons should consult with Rubenstein Library staff before handling these materials.
The vast majority of the collection is comprised of correspondence, covering the years 1823-1883. Many of the letters in the collection were written to Stephens, although there are letters written in his own hand. Throughout the correspondence are letters written to Stephens by various family members, most notably his brothers John and Linton. The bulk of the correspondence pertains to Stephens' law work, regarding issues such as the settling of estates and the collection of debts. The most prominent topics include family matters, business and legal matters and Stephens' health. Given the expansive amount of correspondence, below is a breakdown by decade of other topics which appear, in an effort to assist the researcher in locating materials of interest:
Correspondence 1823-1839: Topics include States' Rights, slavery, and an Indian war in Florida [possibly the Creek War]. There is a letter from Herschel V. Johnson who sought advice from Stephens in 1839 regarding negotiations with a railroad company.
Correspondence 1840-1849: Topics include local and national politics/views, opinions about President Martin Van Buren, "agricultural politics," Thomas Dorr and the People's Party, the purchasing of slaves, the 1843 Boston visit of President John Tyler and Vice President Daniel Webster, Stephens' nomination to serve in the U. S. Congress, Whigs and Democrats (Stephens was invited to attend several Whig-sponsored barbeques), and the death of Stephens' brother Aaron. There is a letter from United States Representative Marshall Johnson Wellborn which discusses the Judiciary Act (1841). There are also a substantial number of letters written by and to John Bird and letters written to him and Stephens (they were likely law partners). Of note are two letters written in 1844 by [Sarvis] Pearson (presumably a client of Stephens or his firm) to his estranged wife Mary S. Pearson which offer insight into the subject of divorce and marital discord of the time period.
Correspondence 1850-1859: Letters written by Stephens start to appear more frequently. Topics include largely family and legal matters.
Correspondence 1860-1869: Topics include employment inquiries both pre- and post-Civil War, autograph requests, Stephens' book about the Civil War, and the social history of a post-Civil War Georgia. Items of note: There are petitions (1860) by Stephens' district constituents asking him to address them about the presidential election. There are letters asking him for permission to travel into the Union. There are a couple of letters written by Stephens to Jefferson Davis. There is a letter from March 1860 to Pearce Stevons [Stephens] by Rody Jordan, both of whom were not only brothers but slaves as well. The letter is likely written by someone other than Jordan. A letter to Stephens in October 1866 states that his former slave Pearce was charged with murder and asks for Stephens' legal counsel at Pearce's request (he apparently complied based on a letter from 1869).
Correspondence 1870-1879: Topics include requests for employment and financial help, requests for letters of recommendation, Linton Stephens' death, Stephens' paper the Daily and Weekly Sun, the federal government, autograph requests, and Stephens' work with the Committee on Standard Weights and Measures. Item of note: There are documents from 1873 concerning an illegal distilling and corruption case in Georgia.
Correspondence 1880-1883: Topics includes Stephens' opinion of President James A. Garfield, his bid for Governor, requests for financial help and letters of recommendation for men interested in state posts appointed by the Governor, such as Physician of the Georgia Penitentiary. Items of note: There is a letter dated 1883 signed by Secretary of War, Robert Todd Lincoln. There are two letters from 1882 which offer some insight into African-American involvement in Georgia politics.
- Biographical / Historical:
Alexander Hamilton Stephens was born in Crawfordville, Taliaferro County, Georgia on February 11, 1812 to Andrew B. and Margaret Grier Stephens. He graduated from Franklin College (later the University of Georgia) in 1832, where he was a member of the Phi Kappa Literary Society. He taught school for the next eighteen months while pursuing legal studies and passed the bar in Georgia in 1834. Stephens maintained a successful law practice for thirty-two years while simultaneously serving as an elected official in both state and federal political realms and as Vice President of the Confederate States of America. He died in 1883.
Chronology List Date Event 1836 Elected to the Georgia House of Representatives as a Whig; served until 1840 1842 Elected to the Georgia State Senate; served for one year. 1843 Elected to the United States Congress; served until 1859 1861 Elected to attend the Secession Convention of Georgia 1861 Elected Vice President of the Confederate States of America 1865 Arrested by the United States; served five months in prison 1866 Elected to the United States Senate but not allowed to take his seat 1873 Elected to United States Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Ambrose R. Wright; served until his resignation in 1882 1882 Elected Governor of Georgia 1883, March 4 Died in Georgia
- Acquisition Information:
- The Alexander H. Stephens Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as purchases between 1946-1962.
- Processing information:
Processed by Kimberly Sims, November 2008
Encoded by Kimberly Sims, November 2008
Multiple accessions were merged into one collection, described in this finding aid.
- Physical Location:
- For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
- Rules or Conventions:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Related Material:
- John Jordan Crittenden Papers — David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Alfred Gumming Papers — David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Marmaduke Hamilton Papers — David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Paul Hamilton Hayne Papers — David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Alexander Hamilton Stephens Letters, Microfilm, Manhattanville College — David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.
- Slavery -- Georgia
Wellborn, Marshall Johnson, 1808-1874
Van Buren, Martin, 1782-1862 -- Public opinion
Davis, Jefferson, 1808-1809
Garfield, James A. (James Abram), 1831-1881 -- Public opinion
Johnson, Herschel V. (Herschel Vespasian), 1812-1880
Dorr, Thomas Wilson, 1805-1854
Stephens, Alexander Hamilton, 1812-1883
Stephens, Linton, 1823-1872
Lincoln, Robert Todd, 1843-1926
United States -- Politics and government -- 19th century
Southern States -- Economic conditions
Georgia -- Newspapers
Georgia -- Politics and government
Confederate States of America -- Politics and government
Georgia -- Economic conditions -- 19th century
Confederate States of America -- Officials and employees
Using These Materials
Collection is open for research.
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- PREFERRED CITATION:
[Identification of item], Alexander H. Stephens Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library