Cover

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Frontispiece, Title Page, Copyright

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Introduction

William C. Davis

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pp. vii-xvi

Jefferson Davis had an intimate and lifelong acquaintance with tragedy. His Confederate States of America lived just four years until it died before his eyes. He and his wife Varina Howell Davis had four sons, and by 1880 all four of them had died, the most recent being Jefferson...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xvii-xxii

Reaching publication of the final volume of our edition is mainly thanks to grants from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the State of Mississippi through the Department of Archives and...

Editorial Staff

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pp. xxiii-xxvi

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Editorial Method

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pp. xxvii-xxx

Items composed by Davis are given preference for publication with annotation, particularly those that illuminate his opinions, philosophy, and personal relationships. Special consideration is given to material not previously printed. Many can be found in Dunbar Rowland’s excellent...

Editorial Symbols and Abbreviations

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pp. xxxi-xxxii

Repository Symbols

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pp. xxxiii-xxxvi

Contents

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pp. xxxvii-xl

List of Illustrations

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pp. xli-xlii

Chronology, 1880–1889

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pp. xliii-2

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1880

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pp. 3-7

To J. Addison Hayes, ALS by V. Davis (TMM, Davis-Hayes Papers, r1, f 56–58): since “We shall have to build & repair a good many Quarters at Brierfield,” discusses options for securing lumber and bricks; “Brierfield, and the adjoining property of the children are in a very dilapidated...

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To James C. Derby

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pp. 8-19

I have received your kind letter,² and am glad to know that you are safely on your way as far as Atlanta³ I had not seen the letters you enclosed,² and have read them with surprise and regret.
Maj Walthall has been much ill since you saw him, but has nevertheless...

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To William Preston Johnston

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pp. 19-29

I was much gratified by the receipt of your letter of the 14th Inst. I have had a great deal to jar my feelings in regard to our cause, and truly regret the¹ further sign of back sliding found in what you write regarding the sale of the biography of your Father.² That one so great, so...

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To A. Dudley Mann

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pp. 30-33

I have lately more than usually been regretting the fate that keeps us apart. It is perhaps partly due to the fact that I had hoped this summer to have been able to go to Europe and to see you.
To day a letter¹ from your Son, came and informed me that he was...

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To J. Addison Hayes

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pp. 33-47

I am glad that you will be able to go to Vicksburg when the division is to be made. I have written to Dr Bowmar about it & also to Maj Pittman¹ requesting the latter to press the former to a speedy arrangement for the purpose of the division. One line has not been run & I have...

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To William N. Pendleton

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pp. 48-50

I received your note,¹ and subsequently the fulfillment of the promise it contained of your letter of the 24th Inst. Did I not know that the labor you performed in preparing the sketch was for a cause as near to your heart as my own, I would apologise to you for the tax my application...

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To James C. Derby

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pp. 50-55

I have your’s of the 29th Ult. and the 3d Inst.¹ Please accept my thanks² for your attention to the engraving of my Brother’s picture.³
The book proofs and galleys so far as received have all been returned, some before, and some after the date of your first acknowledged letter...

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1881

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pp. 55-59

From L. Q. C. Lamar (LNT, LHA Davis Papers, r22, f 953–57); printed in Davis, Papers, ed. Rowland, 8:544–45: regrets he was not in Washington to receive Dec. 15 letter [not found], otherwise would have opposed Nelson A. Miles’s confirmation (Dec. 15) as brigadier general...

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To J. Addison Hayes

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pp. 60-73

I am much obliged to you for the full account you gave me of your doings at Brierfield.¹ From your description of the line of division, I suppose it is about as equitable as any one not knowing thoroughly the ground could have made. There is a great deal more waste land...

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To J. H. D. Bowmar

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pp. 73-76

Absence and various other causes, prominent among which was the reluctance to express dissatisfaction with your acct. of disbursements, which accompanied your letter of April 30th, have delayed this reply.
Mrs Leonard was entitled to receive her full annuity from the proceeds...

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To J. William Jones

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pp. 76-88

You have no doubt noticed various attempts by Confederate officers to exalt themselves at my expense, and especially Longstreet & Mahone in doing so certainly put Genl Lee in a very false position.
Longstreet, after saying he considered our struggle hopeless from the...

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To Margaret Davis Hayes

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pp. 88-94

Your sweet letter¹ came this morning. There was some misunderstanding of your Mother’s letter.¹ It was our cherished hope & expectation to see you before going abroad. Your dreams were more true than sleeping thoughts usually are. I was sick & that together with the heat of...

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To Jubal A. Early

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pp. 94-98

I have received your’s of the 7th Inst, also a copy of the Richmond Dispatch containing your review of the absurd pretensions of Mahone.¹ I always feel some doubt as to the correctness of an Interviewer’s report, but if Mahone did say the half of what is imputed to him he must...

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To A. Dudley Mann

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pp. 99-105

I have been constantly engaged, but about what it would be difficult to tell, save that my thoughts have constantly reverted to the happy time I spent with you.² There is no pleasure greater than that of free converse with one whose sympathy and concurrence of opinion, united to...

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To J. Addison Hayes

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pp. 105-109

I have received yours¹ in regard to plantation affairs, and regret we could not have been here together.²
The division line as I wrote to you,³ before leaving for Europe, seems to me grossly unjust; and not in accordance with the award of the...

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1882

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pp. 109-111

From Lucinda Smith Boyle (ViRC, Davis Coll.): welcomes them home from Europe and sends new year’s greetings; would invite them to visit, but Locust Grove is “an old house in ruins . . . You dear Uncle ‘being the last leaf on the tree’ is indeed very sad, but I find my heart clings more closely...

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To Varina Howell Davis

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pp. 111-114

I returned from New Orleans the sooner¹ because Alek.² wished to go home to-day and I thought it best to be here when he left. A Mass of letters received keep me very busy. Hunter Davidson³ complains that I did not give him due credit in my book, and sends duplicate letter from So...

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To J. William Jones

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pp. 115-123

On every hand I am advised & entreated not to notice Johnstons mean insinuations, but the rather to leave it to those who have been prompt to disprove and denounce the slander.
I enclose to you as requested several slips,¹ that containing the state...

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To Virginia Tunstall Clay

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pp. 124-141

This morning’s mail brought your kind though sad letter. Were it in human power to relieve by taking up the burden of another, I might claim to be fit to bear yours by having with you a common sorrow. Last night my Wife and I were speaking of your dear Husband, whose...

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To Virginia Tunstall Clay

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pp. 141-150

My letters have been so frequent and the last so recent that but for the excuse afforded by your request for the return of Mrs. Chesnut’s letter¹ I should hardly have ventured to intrude to day. Her letter is characteristic of her sympathetic, faithful, noble and appreciative nature...

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To J. Addison Hayes

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pp. 150-159

My Daughter says you expect her & the children to meet her in N. Orleans because you have to hasten immediately back to Memphis. I write to express the conviction that to do anything efficiently towards building the new levee may require several days & that any practicable...

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To Minor Meriwether

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pp. 159-163

I have received your’s of the 8th Inst with a slip from the Detroit Newspaper.¹ The story related there is mere fiction with here & there a grain of truth, such as the statement by the signal officer they hanged² a poor negro as he absurdly says with the negroe’s consent because...

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To A. Dudley Mann

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pp. 163-165

In the last hours of the old year I send you cordial greeting for the new. Mrs. Davis and I are quite alone, Winnie who came out to be with us on Xmas day, having returned to keep some engagements she had made in the City.
This season is no longer the festival we remember it to have been before...

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1883

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pp. 166-168

From J. D. S. Newell (ViRC, Davis Coll.): acknowledges Davis’ of the 28th [not found]; hopes to rent Limerick to Straus & Marks “on the terms suggested by you. Taking into consideration the many demands always being made by the tenants, and the many incidentals always arising...

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To J. D. S. Newell

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pp. 168-173

Please accept my thanks for your prompt attention to the Limerick affairs.² Strauss³ manifested so great anxiety to rent Limerick that I am surprised your offer should have been declined.
The offer of $500, is, I agree with you, too little, being about what...

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To J. Addison Hayes

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pp. 173-186

If I felt well enough I would be glad to go to Bfd. & meet you there.¹ I suppose Capt Hughes has informed you of the disturbance of his Tenants created by some warrants issued against them & of his beleif that the proceedings were malicious, also that he had heard of J. D. Mitchell...

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To William S. Lovell

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pp. 186-191

Your letter of the 13th ult was duly received but illness¹ has delayed this reply.
My conversation with you² was not in regard to a ditch running through your lake place but about a Bayou, the natural drain of Longlake and it occurred in this wise...

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To John W. Daniel

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pp. 191-204

Accept my thanks for your kind letter of the 18th Inst. and please say to your little Daughter² that we were much gratified that by your child the tribute offered by mine was laid on the tomb of Jackson.³
I have often seen statements which did not accord with my recollection...

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To Victor M. Rose

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pp. 204-207

I received your letter postmarked 20th Inst.² Illhealth and many pressing engagements will not permit me to answer as fully as I would wish to the questions you propound. In the introduction to “The Rise & Fall of the Confederate Government” I stated that my object in writing...

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To A. Dudley Mann

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pp. 207-213

I am sadly grieved to hear of your recent illness and sincerely hope that you may find relief in Paris.¹ Sometimes a change of air acts beneficially upon an invalid & in the City you will have an opportunity to secure the best professional advice. I realize that you are ready to go whenever the...

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1884

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pp. 213-215

From J. D. S. Newell (ViRC, Davis Coll.): encloses 1883 accounts for Limerick, explaining that Davis has to furnish “gin charges, so as to put your lessees on a footing with the neighboring plantations . . . will be able to lease all the lands again — for 25. bales — & hope to get full lease as...

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To Mary Elizabeth Mitchell Hamer

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pp. 215-229

Yours of the 3d Inst. has been received.¹ The portrait is a good likeness of Brother Joe. at the time it was taken, but the photograph poorly represents the painting.² The deep shadow under the chin caused the elongation in the photo...

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To James C. Derby

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pp. 229-233

In mercy’s sake do not hold me reponsible for what a lying interviewer sailing under false colors has chosen to publish It is true that he wrote to me¹ that he had been misquoted in the Newspaper article, and I replied to him¹ that I had not seen his correction of the many misrepresentations...

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To J. Addison Hayes

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pp. 233-242

I have this day received yours of the 16th Inst.¹ at the moment of leaving Beauvoir. Col. Lovell gave notice that he would be here to day to make arrangements for the levees and Mr. Marx asked me to meet him. He Lovell has been busily engaged to excite a prejudice against the front...

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To Varina Howell Davis

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pp. 242-250

Accept my thanks for your letter of the 6th and postal of the 7th Insts, both received this day.¹
Winnie has been very busy for several days at house cleaning, which she seems to do as thoroughly as if she expected it would not be like the boy’s face. Maggie, Joe, and little Varina are well. The two first named...

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To Varina Howell Davis

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pp. 250-255

Since my arrival one trouble has chased another like waves each being the herald of one to come, but the hardest to bear has been the disappointment to others from the failure of the new levee.¹ The remark that only one man on the island was gratified is perhaps nearly if not quite...

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1885

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pp. 255-260

To Helen Gray, ALS by V. Davis (Bayanne H. Hauhart): with thanks for her letter and enclosed clippings [none found], refers to recent death of her grandfather William T. Leacock (Dec. 28); “It was to me a sore affliction and I have now no neighbor who can ever fill his place to me, either...

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From Varina Howell Davis

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pp. 260-263

“Nothing Strange” has happened since you left,¹ but that a letter of Mr Jeter² asking for plows has been sent here — I have sent it into Mr Payne and perhaps he can tell how much to grant of his requests, he also mentions hoes as required...

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To Lucius B. Northrop

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pp. 263-279

Your’s of the 25th has been received and the perusal of it intensifies the regret I have long felt that we are so far apart. We might not talk as joyously as we used to do when encamped in the Creek Nation² but there are many things we could consolingly discuss now that our shadows...

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To J. William Jones

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pp. 279-287

In the Rise & Fall of the Conf. Govt. I beleive I stated about all for which I had any official Authority in regard to the Hampton Roads conference. Beyond that I might say that the Commissioners orally gave me a long account of what transpired at their meeting but of which they...

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To Varina Howell Davis

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pp. 287-291

I am here in the midst of so much perplexity and annoyance and under such great anxiety about my Baby,¹ that I cannot wish you a “merry x mas” in a cheerful tone.²
The weather has been good until to day, the field is white and much of the ground covered with cotton, but the pickers are few. Day before...

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1886

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pp. 291-293

To Varina Howell Davis, ALS (AU, Davis Coll.): “I wish you a happier New Year than you probably have and many happier than this. The morning is cold and wet and every body looks affected by the order I gave to take stock to-day for the opening of new books”; as Mrs. Hughes spoke...

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To Thomas F. Drayton

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pp. 293-299

I have received your kind letters of the 18th¹ and am very thankful to you for the trouble you have taken to meet my wishes in the matter of laborers.² What with cotton worms & overflows my planting operations have been disastrous during the last four years and the demand for...

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Last Will and Testament

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pp. 299-306

I, Jefferson Davis of the County of Harrison and State of Mississippi, being of sound and disposing mind, but of such advanced age, as to suggest a near approach of death, do make this my last Will and Testament, written with my own hand and signed in the presence of three competent...

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Speech in Montgomery

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pp. 306-318

Editorial note: On the 28th and 29th of April the Ladies Memorial Association hosted cornerstone-laying ceremonies to raise funds for the construction of a monument honoring the Confederate dead. Davis was invited to speak, along with General John B. Gordon; their arrival on the 27th was heralded by a hundred...

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To Campbell Brown

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pp. 318-331

This acknowledgement of your kind letter of the 17th Ult. has been delayed by a serious illness.²
I have read the extract you sent to me and will say of it in the first place, that Genl Ewell’s veracity needed no endorsement, but the question...

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To Minor Meriwether

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pp. 331-342

In accordance with your suggestion¹ I did write to a Senator in reply to Sherman’s tirade, soon after it was received by the Senate, but the debate had been closed and the Senator wrote to me that no opportunity had offered for the use of my letter & further that he thought my...

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To J. Thomas Scharf

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pp. 343-347

Accept my thanks for your kind letter of the 24th Inst. I had been hoping for sometime past to see or to hear from you, but I now find by the enclosures you sent to me that you have been busily at work on your proposed history of the Confed. States Navy.² I hope your associates...

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1887

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pp. 347-353

To M. T. Sanders (Hallum, Biog. & Pictorial Hist., 372–73): addressed to Thomas C. Hindman’s former law partner; was well acquainted with Hindman, son of a War of 1812 veteran and “certainly endowed with high military attributes. Both in his civil and military career he displayed zeal...

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To Mary Elizabeth Mitchell Hamer

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pp. 353-377

Your letter of the 25th ult¹ has been received & though accustomed to receive misrepresentation & detraction, it was a painful surprise to me to meet it at your hand.
You have shown no regard for my feelings or respect for my character, I will therefore dismiss all sentiments and reply to your allegations...

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To William M. Leftwich

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pp. 377-381

Your’s of Aug 4th with the enclosed slip has been by some accident been overlooked until today, when, finding it upon my table under other loose letters and being attracted by the absence of any endorsement upon it, I opened and read it....

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To J. Addison Hayes

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pp. 381-385

I have received your’s of the 24th. Ult. as well as the receipt for another shipment of Manitou Water¹ which we find so delicious that I am afraid it is going to add another to the list of our wants, a thing which is easily increased, but with difficulty diminished...

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To Charles B. Galloway

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pp. 385-396

On seeing your address delivered at Brookhaven, Mississippi, on the 10th ult, as published in The Times-Democrat, of New Orleans, on the 11th, I wrote to you calling your attention to passages cited from your address, and sent you a printed copy of my letter to Gov. Lubbock, of...

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To Flora McDonald Williams

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pp. 397-407

The cards you sent were safely received. I have attached my autograph to each of them & will return them as instructed in your letter,² as soon as I can send the package to the express office at Mississippi City. We have a Post office here, but no express agent...

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To Henry W. Cleveland

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pp. 407-411

Your kind letter of the 19th Inst. has been received. Judge Campbell was one of the Commissioners appointed to go to Washington, but not allowed to go further than Hampton Roads; he with Stephens and Hunter came to my residence to make their report, and orally said more...

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1888

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pp. 411-416

From Henry W. Cleveland (Davis, Papers, ed. Rowland, 10:19–22): will consider his Dec. 29 letter confidential and hopes he has by now received the magazine articles; “There is more and more evidence of bad faith on the part of the Commissioners . . . I have more faith in [Hunter] than in...

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To The New York World

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pp. 416-425

In your paper of the 11th Inst there appeared a communication from Washington D.C. to which because of its special reference to me I ask of you the privilege of replying through the same medium.³ The statement of your correspondent so far as it relates to me is a tissue of...

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To Jubal A. Early

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pp. 425-434

I am glad to hear that you have so far recovered from your indisposition and trust you will soon be entirely well & that we shall have the pleasure of seeing¹ you when again you come to the South.
The difference between us in regard to Grant’s conduct at Appomattox...

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To J. William Jones

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pp. 434-436

Please accept my thanks for your kind letter of the 25th Inst. I did not answer Dr Gambrell’s² letter because in addition to my general rule to avoid complications with political controversies there is this time a special reason on account of the pending presidential campaign & a...

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To John H. Reagan

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pp. 436-448

I read with particular interest your remarks on the retired list.¹ It is certainly, as practiced, an abuse. It originated in a plausible theory that an officer’s pay was so small that he could not save enough from it to provide for old age when he became unfit for further service & like...

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1889

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pp. 448-452

To Thomas P. Leathers, ALS (L-M, RG385, Leathers Coll.): “I grieve with you over the wreck of your splendid Steamer the Natches [the Natchez struck a reef and sank at Lake Providence on Jan. 1 (Picayune, Jan. 2, p1, Jan. 4, p2)]. Last of the River palaces we shall never look upon her like...

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To Martin W. Philips

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pp. 453-454

I was much gratified by the receipt of your letter of the 28th Ult.¹ especially by the good news it brought me of the health & happiness of your good Wife² & self
Like yourself, I feel apprehension as to the consequences of the restoration to power of the radical party — beleiving Mr Harrison...

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To William H. McCardle

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pp. 454-459

Please accept my thanks for your very interesting letter with the amusing slip¹ of an attempt to manufacture history. Never having before heard of the disagreement with myself as to the proper mode of carrying on the war, & as it appears the plans have been preserved &...

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To J. William Jones

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pp. 459-462

Dear Sir—I have received yours of the 15th inst., with the enclosed slip.¹ The story referred to is not only untrue, but absurd.
The constitution of the Confederate States differed from that of the United States by having in its preamble a recognition of the Supreme...

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To John A. Watkins

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pp. 462-468

Your’s of the 30— ult² this day received. I very willingly give you such imperfect information as I possess, in regard to the matters to which you call my attention.
I do not think the men of Hinds’ command returned to their homes...

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To Donn Piatt

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pp. 468-492

yours of the 20th inst. with the letter of Mr. Belford² enclosed has been received; and read with much gratification. To avoid delay I will inclose a copy of the contract & a couple of papers connected with the contention /& send them/ direct to Mr. Belford.³ The4 question of royalty...

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To James Redpath

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pp. 492-496

I have this day received your’s of the 31st Ult, & it f[inds]² me preparing to leave for Brierfield, for an absence say of ten days or a fortnight³ — I do know4 of any type sheets remaining here but will make search & if I find any send them to you I had also intended to make...

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To Varina Howell Davis

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pp. 496-498

If I can get to the landing I will go down on the Leathers¹ to morrow. Lest you should hear alarming I write say I have suffered much but by the help of the Lord &c
Nothing is as it² should be, and I am not able even to look over³ the place — With best wishes to all4 the household I am as ever...

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Appendix: Notes on Indictments

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pp. 499-504

Notes on indictments, AD (LNT, LHA Davis Papers, r26, f 591–620, numbered K1–23 with additional unnumbered sheets): “On the 22d of May 1865 I was taken from the steamer Clyde in Hampton Roads & conveyed to Fortress Monroe & there confined in a cell as a State Prisoner United States...

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Addenda, 1840–79

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pp. 505-518

From Lucius B. Northrop (MacManus cat. 409, Nov. 2012, item 188): from Fort Gibson, tells of his disability, caused by accidentally shooting himself in the leg on Dec. 9, with resulting hospitalization; mourns death of his horse “Jeff. Davis...

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Epilogue

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pp. 519-528

For the last three weeks of his life, suffering from “acute bronchitis complicated with grave malarial trouble,” Davis resided at 1134 First Street, New Orleans, home of Caroline and Charles E. Fenner, Jacob U. Payne’s daughter and son-in-law. He died early in the morning...

Sources

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pp. 529-572

Index

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pp. 573-616

Image Plates

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