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Jefferson Davis

Autographed Paper Ephemera

1248910-1

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(1) Jefferson Davis Free Franked Envelope, 5.5” x 3”, franked in upper right “Jeffer..Davis / U.S.S”as U.S. Senator. Addressed by Davis to “Revd. J.W. French, / U.S. Mil. Academy / West Point, / N.Y..”Postmarked Washington City Free, MAR 18 1859 Year is very light. Expertly mended diagonal tear through “r” and “S.S.” of free frank, else fine.

Rev. John W. French (1808-1871) served as Chaplain of the House of Representatives in 1841, the first Episcopalian to hold that post. He was the founding priest of the Church of the Epiphany in Washington, D.C., serving from 1842 until 1856 when he was appointed Chaplain and Professor of Geography, History, and Ethics at the Military Academy at West Point by President Franklin Pierce. Rev. French was notified of his appointment by Pierce’s Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, West Point, Class of 1828. They remained friends for life. This friendship caused some to question French’s loyalty at the outbreak of the Civil War. French served at West Point until his death in 1871.

(2) Autograph Manuscript Signed “J.W. French” in light pencil, 2p, 8” x 12”, front & verso. [West Point, April 23, 1861. Folds, minor flaws. Very Good condition.

In part, “Plans of the Secessionists. 1. By declaring that they mean to attack Washington by a certain time, to draw troops there. 2. To cut off their communications, and supplies, and to enclose them: by the following: (a) Breaking the line of rail road through Baltimore this now done … (b) … to Annapolis … (c) cutting off supplies of provisions by troops on the right (i.e. west) bank of the Potomac, 5.000 to be with their centre at Arlington. This too, done … 2. By terrorism applied, to all farmers and Market people, outside of the District and in Maryland. This it is supposed is done. (d) Pouring in Southern troops across the Potomac, near Harper’s ferry, in thousands by day and night 1. To cut off communications with Pennsylvania and the West…

“(e) To effect these objects secretly, to keep the hand of the Southern Confederacy out of sight, to make measures appear as accidents or popular impulses to overawe Baltimore, and propagandize Maryland there is a secret organization, with oath, grip and pass-words dispensed and they act under orders. They cut telegraph wires, break a line of rail-road, burn bridges &c. The outbreak against the troops was their plan. It is believed that this agency has been in operation for months. Perhaps they are called Knights of the Golden Circle. (f) By these means to enclave the federal troops in a trap.

“Remedy. Stop at once the transmission of Southern troops with Maryland, by an overwhelming force from Pennsylvania, concentrated at Harpers Ferry, or the point of crossing the river.

“Errors. 1. Relying upon a single line of communication so precarious as that through Baltimore. 2. Not having a slow and sure line, with sufficient troops, all along the Potomac, into Pennsylvania, for communication with the whole north and west. 3. The error years ago was giving up, under Mr Calhouns advice, the West bank of the Potomac, and the part of Alexandria to Virginia, thus reducing the District of Columbia to the Maryland side of the Potomac. Washington knew the importance of the 10 miles square, as he left it. The writer of this demonstrated, and prophesied at the time to Mr Webster. JW French.”

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TAGS: Confederacy (Civil War)

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