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lication was begun May 26, 1908, a century after his birth, a belated task which has been performed none too soon. The first move in the undertaking was the issuance of the following announcements to the press and to the public:
Announcement to the Press.
Department of Archives and History.
Jackson, Miss., May 29, 1908. "I beg leave to call to your attention the enclosed circular letter which explains an historical undertaking being inaugurated by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History which I trust will call forth your active interest and approval. May I ask you to give it publicity in your publication on June 10, 1908.
“The demand for the collection and publication of the writings and speeches of Mr. Davis has become so insistent among historians that the Mississippi Department of Archives and History has been prompted to collect and publish them as a service to American history.
“The Department will be very grateful for the publication of its appeal, for any editorial comments which you may make, and for copies of the issue containing them,” etc.
Announcement to the Public.
“The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has formulated a plan for the collection and publication of the writings and speeches of Jefferson Davis. In order that the undertaking may be successful, it will be necessary to secure the cooperation, not only of the historical societies and patriotic organizations which have original Davis letters, but also of individuals who have preserved them. Up to this time there has been no systematic effort made for the collection in one repository of the letters and speeches of Mr. Davis. These valuable historical materials that are still in private hands, will, in course of time, disappear or be destroyed if they are not collected and preserved in some central repository.
“That the duty of preserving and publishing these records rests upon the Mississippi Department of Archives and History is very evident; and in response to the obligation, the Department issues this appeal for co-operation on the part of those who
are interested in the preservation of historical materials, not only in the South, but in every part of the United States.
“The papers of Mr. Davis are not preserved alone in the Southern States; while it is doubtless true that the greater part of them are in the South, it is well known that there are valuable collections in other parts of the country.
"The true story of the Southern Confederacy, lies in the letters, speeches, and State papers of its leaders; and its best justification will come after such historical materials have been made accessible to the truth-loving historian of the future.
“The private and public papers of such Southern leaders as Calhoun, Davis, and Lee will reveal, as nothing else can, the principles for which they contended, and give to posterity the true estimate of their lives and deeds.
"In order that those who are interested may know the kind of papers wanted, it may be well to state that all writings of Mr. Davis, public or private, official or unofficial, in manuscript or printed form, are worthy of preservation and are desired. In other words, any paper in his hand-writing or signed by him, is of value. The papers which are apparently of the least value may give impressions which are of the greatest historical importance. It has been truly said that the account books kept by Washington and Jefferson have afforded to historians an insight into their habits and characteristics which could not have been obtained from the Declaration of Independence or the Farewell Address. It may be gathered from this illustration that the private papers of great men are by no means unimportant to the historian.
“The most valuable historical materials in the United States, relating to the American Revolution, are the original papers of such leaders as Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, and Madison, which are preserved in the Manuscripts Division of the Library of Congress.
"The most desirable form of historical material is the original document. It is often the case, however, that the owner of the original is unwilling to part with it, and an accurate copy is all that can be had. In gathering up the Davis writings and speeches it is the intention of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to make the largest possible collection of originals that can be obtained. In the event that the original documents cannot be secured, copies, accurately made and certified, can be used to good advantage, and will be gladly accepted; and when any expense is incurred, the amount expended will be
returned. Where Davis collections are in the custody of historical societies or other patriotic organizations, or where they are part of the National or State archives, permission to have copies made by persons designated by the officials in charge is requested. In the case of private collections, where the owners are unwilling to give up the original documents, but are willing to furnish, or allow copies to be made, it will be best to allow the original to accompany the copies for the purpose of verification.
“The collection and publication of the writings and speeches of Mr. Davis should strongly appeal to the people of Mississippi among whom his life was spent; this should also have the active co-operation of every patriotic organization in the South, and it is confidently believed that such an undertaking will command the sympathy of searchers for the truth everywhere. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History invites the co-operation of every historical agency in the United States which has Davis writings or speeches in its collections, and it solicits the active aid of those who have in their keeping the archives of the various Southern States in making a worthy undertaking a success. The Department appeals to Confederate Veterans, Sons of the Confederacy, Daughters of the Confederacy, Daughters of Confederate Veterans, and Memorial and Monumental Associations throughout the country to give active aid and support to a movement which has for its motive the preservation of truth.
“Correspondence should be directed to Dunbar Rowland, Director of the Department of Archives and History, Jackson, Miss.
“With the belief that the collection and publication of such historical materials will redound to the honor of the Southern people, and add something of permanent value to the history of the whole country, I am," etc.
The story of the vicissitudes and spoliations through which the papers of Jefferson Davis have passed is told in letters printed in these volumes, which makes it unnecessary to repeat it here. Perhaps no papers of a great man who held high official position have been subjected to such mutations nor to such novel and unusual methods of preservation. Some of the papers ran the gauntlet from Richmond to Florida, where they were buried in a stable, others were carried to New York City by Burton N. Harrison, some found a place of safety in New Orleans, and some were captured by Union soldiers and lost to
view. That they were preserved at all during and after the War for Southern Independence is indeed remarkable.
The papers of Jefferson Davis are widely diffused over the United States and are in the keeping of historical societies and departments, libraries, museums, Confederate memorials, private collections and in the files of dealers in autographs and historical manuscripts.
The largest, most valuable and interesting collection of Jefferson Davis papers is preserved in the Confederate Memorial Hall in New Orleans, Louisiana. The collection was placed there by Mrs. Davis when she moved from Beauvoir after the death of her husband. The trustees of the memorial were enjoined not to allow the papers to be examined and used for historical or other purposes until five years after the death of Mrs. Davis. She died in 1906, and in 1911 the papers were for the first time after having been placed in the Hall made accessible to the editor of these volumes.
The Confederate Memorial Hall collection consists of the official letter books and message books of the President of the Confederate States and of official letters to the president. The letters on military subjects in the letter books have been published through the courtesy of Mr. Davis in the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies," the letters published being selected by the representatives of the War Department detailed for that purpose. The rules of exclusion and inclusion by which the copyists were guided are not entirely clear. Much vital material was excluded. A calendar of the letters published in that series will be found elsewhere in these volumes. All letters contained in the letter books of the President of the Confederate States of America are embraced in this publication. Those dealing with subjects other than those of a military character are published for the first time.
The collection of Jefferson Davis papers next in value and interest to the Confederate Memorial Hall collection is in the keeping of the Confederate Museum at Richmond. These papers were preserved by the late Mrs. Margaret Davis Hayes of Colorado Springs, the eldest daughter of Jefferson Davis, and were placed in the Confederate Museum by Jefferson Hayes Davis of Colorado Springs, a grandson of Jefferson Davis. This collection was carefully studied and many of the most interesting letters appearing herein are from that inspiring repository of Confederate history.
The Manuscripts Division of the Library of Congress and
the Old Records Division of the War Department are repositories of Jefferson Davis material of great value and interest; both collections have been extensively drawn on, and some of the most illuminating letters here printed are from these collections.
The collections of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, both official and unofficial, are rich in Jefferson Davis materials, and from that source comes much that is of special interest. The location of all letters, messages, reports and speeches is given at the beginning of each. This method seems to have the approval of a majority of students of historical sources.
Material of great historical interest relative to Jefferson Davis has been collected by the following historical agencies, and all are represented by letters in these volumes : Virginia State Library, New York Historical Society, Pennsylvania Historical Society, Missouri Historical Society, Wisconsin Historical Society, American Antiquarian Society, New York Public Library, Texas State Library, Iowa State Library, Rhode Island Historical Society, New Hampshire Historical Society, Maine Historical Society, Buffalo Historical Society.
I wish I could adequately express my sense of obligation to the aithful and efficient officials who direct the activities of these cultural agencies. Special thanks for the use of valuable letters are extended to Alexander J. Wall, Librarian of the New York Historical Society, Miss Margaret Wylie of the Pennsylvania Historical Society, Victor Hugo Paltsetts, Chief of the Manuscripts Division of the New York Public Library, Miss Elizabeth H. West, State Librarian of Texas, Edgar R. Harlan, Director of the Manuscripts Division of the Iowa State Library, H. M. Chapin, Librarian of the Rhode Island Historical Society, Miss Annie A. Nunns, Assistant Superintendent of the Wisconsin Historical Society, Mrs. Nettie H. Beauregard, Archivist of the Missouri Historical Society, Miss Edith S. Freeman, Librarian of the New Hampshire Historical Society, Miss Evelyn Langdon Gilmore, Librarian of the Maine Historical Society, Clarence S. Brigham, Librarian of the American Antiquarian Society, and Frank H. Severance, Secretary of the Buffalo Historical Society.
In addition to the use of official collections of Jefferson Davis papers I have been allowed through the gracious and generous courtesy of Jefferson Hayes Davis, of Colorado Springs, Gen. Marcus J. Wright and his son Lt. Col. John V. Wright, U. S. A., of Washington, D. C., Mrs. Floyd Northrop Morenus of Mara