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|Size||1.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 1500 items)|
|Abstract||Alexander Robert Lawton of Savannah, Ga., was a lawyer, Confederate brigadier and quartermaster general, president of the American Bar Association, Georgia state legislator, and U.S. minister to Austria-Hungary, 1887-1889. The collection includes correspondence, chiefly 1839-1896, relating to the military, political, and business careers of Alexander Robert Lawton and to members of his family. Included are a personal and plantation diary, 1810-1840, of his father, Alexander James Lawton (1796-1876); a few items relating to A.R. Lawton's wife, Sarah Hillhouse (Alexander) Lawton (1826-1897); and some materials relating to the law career of his son, Alexander Rudolph Lawton (1858-1936). Correspondence related to Alexander Robert Lawton's Civil War activities include letters from Robert E. Lee, Varina Howell Davis, Jubal A. Early, and Jefferson Davis; also of interest are battle notes by Stonewall Jackson. Family correspondence includes a number of letters exchanged between the women of the Lawton family revealing their perceptions of the antebellum political and subsequent military conflict. Of particular interest is correspondence discussing sectional conflicts and related matters. Postwar materials include several items pertaining to the development of railroad companies in Georgia. Also included are a letter book, 1887-1889, of Alexander Robert Lawton in Vienna; correspondence, 1921, between William Howard Taft and Alexander Rudolf Lawton, including two holograph letters from Taft; an account of an 1887 sea voyage to Liverpool by Sarah Lawton; a journal of a seven-day walking tour through Georgia and North Carolina; an 1892 diary kept by Sarah Lawton of her social activities, a record of the proceedings of the trustees of Blackswamp Academy, of which Alexander James Lawton was secretary, in 1818; images of Alexander James Lawton; and a signed carte-de-visite of Robert E. Lee.|
|Creator||Lawton, Alexander Robert, 1818-1896.|
|Curatorial Unit||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.|
The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.
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Alexander Robert Lawton (1818-1896) was born to planter and militia officer Alexander James Lawton (1790-1876) and Martha Mosse (b. 1788), daughter of Dr. George Mosse, on 4 November 1818 in Saint Peter's Parish, Beaufort District, S.C. Lawton graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1839 and served in an artillery unit until 1841, when he resigned to study law at Harvard. He established a law practice in Savannah, Ga., in 1843, and, in 1845, married Sarah Hillhouse Alexander, with whom he had four children. Lawton was involved in a number of business, including the running of a plantation. From 1849 to 1854, Lawton was president of the Augusta and Savannah Railroad.
A staunch secessionist, Lawton was elected to the Georgia state legislature in 1855, and was considered to be among its strongest members. In 1860, he was elected to the Georgia senate. When Georgia seceded, Lawton resigned to help organize a state regiment. As colonel of the 1st Volunteer Georgia Regiment, he seized Fort Pulaski--the first overt act of war in Georgia. In April of 1861, he was commissioned a brigadier general and put in charge of Georgia's coastal defenses. In 1862, he was sent to Richmond; Lawton fought in the second battle at Manassas and was wounded and disabled in 1862 at Sharpsburg. Jefferson Davis named Lawton quartermaster general in February of 1864, over Lawton's protests; some public doubt over the legitimacy of Lawton's appointment encouraged him to resign from this position in 1864.
After the war, Lawton returned to his law practice in Savannah, and quickly became involved once again in politics. From 1870 to 1875, he served in the state legislature. In 1876, he chaired the state electoral college, and, in 1877, acted as vice president of the Georgia constitutional convention. In 1880, Lawton was defeated as the Democratic Candidate for the United States Senate. In 1882, he served as president of the American Bar Association. From 1887 to 1889, Lawton acted as minister to Austria. He died in Clifton Springs, N.Y., on 2 July 1896.
Lawton's son, Alexander Rudolph Lawton, was born in Savannah, 9 August 1858. He received his A.B. from the University of Georgia in 1877, attended law school at the University of Virginia and Harvard, and passed the bar in 1880. In 1882, he joined the firm of Lawton and Cunningham, and became involved in a number of railroad concerns, including the Central Railroad and Banking Company of Georgia, the Central of Georgia Railroad, the Atlanta and West Point Railroad, and the Western Railway of Alabama. Alexander Rudolph Lawton was also director of the Ocean Steamship Company of Alabama and the Chatham Bank and Trust Company. He died in Savannah in 1936.
For biographical information of Alexander Robert Lawton, see Jon Wakelyn's Biographical Dictionary of the Confederacy, page 278, and the Dictionary of American Biography, Volume 11, page 61.Back to Top
The Alexander Robert Lawton papers are largely correspondence among the three generations of the Lawton family, chiefly pertaining to the professional, military, and political activities of Alexander Robert Lawton. Letters are detailed and clear, containing useful insights into 19th-century political and family life, particularly with regard to the political, military, and domestic aspects of the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Material documenting activities on the Lawton plantation, including a detailed plantation journal kept by Alexander James Lawton from 1810 to 1840, can be found in Series 1 and Series 2. The Lawton family was also very much involved in the development of various railroads; much of the correspondence and financial and legal material pertains to several railroad companies in mid-19th-century Georgia. Family correspondence in the 1870s and 1880s documents Alexander Robert Lawton's service in the state legislature at Atlanta, his appointment and activities as United States envoy to Austria-Hungary, and the education and law practice of Lawton's son, Alexander Rudolph Lawton.
The twelve speeches that comprise Series 3 were delivered in the 1920s by A. R. Lawton (probably Alexander Rudolph Lawton in most cases). Those delivered at dedications of monuments honor soldiers killed in World War I; others, given before members of the Cosmos Club, reveal Lawton's views on race relations, the Confederate and United States constitutions, and politics in the South.
Series 4 consists of newspaper clippings collected by the Lawton family. Those clippings, preserved for their relevance to the Lawton family and family history, have been grouped in subseries 4.1. Items clipped for more general interest, including poems, anecdotes, and articles, have been grouped in subseries 4.2. Other papers in this collection, gathered in Series 5, includes an account of an 1887 sea voyage to Liverpool by Sarah Lawton, a journal of a seven-day walking tour through Georgia and North Carolina, an 1892 diary kept by Sarah Lawton of her social activities, and a record of the proceedings of the trustees of Blackswamp Academy, of which Alexander James Lawton was secretary, in 1818. Pictures (Series 6) include images of Alexander James Lawton and a signed carte-de-visite of Robert E. Lee.Back to Top
Letters to and from three generations of the Lawton family, particularly between 1860 and 1890. The bulk of the correspondence pertains to the public careers of Alexander Robert Lawton and his son, Alexander Rudolph Lawton, who is called at times A. R. Lawton, Jr. Alexander Robert Lawton's military and political careers are particularly well documented, as correspondence contains many letters from military officers, politicians, and office-holders regarding various political issues and incidents in which Lawton was involved and the positions to which Lawton was elected or appointed. Several letters relate to the effects of Lawton's Civil War activity on subsequent political involvement. Lawton's business ventures are also documented in this series, particularly in the 1870s and 1880s, when Lawton's son helped oversee his financial affairs. Correspondence throughout the series relates chiefly to the public affairs of men in the Lawton family, though letters and passages revealing family life and domestic concerns are scattered throughout. Letters among women are particularly plentiful and revealing at the advent of the Civil War, as they document women's political views and reactions to the war.
Correspondence of Alexander James Lawton, his father, and other members of his family. Early items include an 1823 letter from Alexander James Lawton resigning his command of the 12th Regiment, S.C. Militia, and two letters (23 September 1826 and 2 June 1828) to A. J. Lawton from Lee Compare, a missionary to the Creek Nation, describing an evacuation of Native Americans, the operation of a mission school, and reactions to reform and aid efforts.
In 1839, there are letters from Lawton to his mother, Martha Mosse, describing life in the army at Plattsburgh and Rouses Point, N.Y. There are also letters from Lawton to his father regarding business interests and concerns, including Lawton's philosophy on financial affairs in relation to the purchase of additional slaves. Also included is Lawton's letter announcing his acceptance of the presidency of the Augusta Railroad in 1849.
Correspondence at the outbreak of war reveals the political views and sentiments of women in the Lawton family; letters of 1860 and 1861 from Sarah Alexander Hillhouse Lawton in Savannah and her sister-in-law, Adeline Lawton Robert, in Burlington, Iowa, describe growing anxiety and excitement over the sectional conflict and discuss war activities; later letters among women discuss troop movements, civilian response to the conflict, dangers regarding slaves, and general war news.
There are several 1862 letters from Alexander Robert Lawton to his wife Sarah written while Lawton was serving in the field at Staunton, Fredericks Hall, Gordonsville, and Richmond, Va. Other family correspondence includes a letter from Alexander James Lawton disinheriting any children of his daughter Adeline in Iowa who took up arms against the South. Correspondence in 1864 and 1865 pertains to Alexander Robert Lawton's position as quartermaster general, including a si-Xpage copy of a letter from Attorney General George Davis to Secretary of War James Seddon regarding the legality of Lawton's appointment.
Of particular interest are three letters from Robert E. Lee to Alexander Robert Lawton: 11 May 1863 (typed transcription); 21 July 1864 (handwritten transcription); and 7 March 1865 (original). They concern troop movements and efforts to save property. Other items of interest include post-war correspondence from high-ranking Confederate officers, including Joseph Johnston and Jefferson Davis, and an extract of a letter from Jubal Early relating to an investigation of the use of funds during the war.
Family letters continue, and include a letter from Alexander Robert Lawton to his father strongly discouraging his father from remarrying, citing his age and financial situation. Also included are letters from Alexander Robert Lawton while he was in the legislature in Atlanta, in New York on business, or in Savannah; letters from to Sarah Lawton in France, 1866-1867; and, in 1875, the beginning of letters home from A. R. Lawton Jr., then at college in Athens, Ga., and Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Some letters in these years reveal new labor arrangements, the hiring of blacks and whites for farm labor, and race relations in post-bellum South Carolina.
Also included is a letter from Robert E. Lee (4 August 1870, typed transcription) about efforts to help support General Samuel Cooper, and a January 1876 letter from C. E. Smith about Democratic party politics.
Letters from A. R. Lawton Jr., continue, from Poughkeepsie, the University of Virginia, and Harvard. By the summer of 1881, he practiced law in Savannah with Henry C. Cunningham. Some family correspondence describes the devastating yellow fever epidemic in Savannah in 1876 (see also Subseries 4.2). Other family events discussed in these letters include the deaths of Corinne Lawton and Alexander James Lawton in 1877, the wedding of Louise Lawton to L. C. Mackall in 1878, the importing of a sculpted monument by Benedetto Civiletti in 1879 (see photographs in Series 6), and A. R. Lawton Jr.'s 1882 marriage to Daisy Beckwith. In July 1896, the family received letters of condolence upon the death of Alexander Robert Lawton.
Correspondence pertaining to Lawton's business interests include several letters from John I. Hall and John D. Stewart, attorneys in Griffin, Ga., regarding cases they were handling for the railroad. A letter from Albert Fink in December 1882 urged the reelection of General E. P. Alexander as president of the Georgia Central Railroad Company (for Alexander's presidential race, see clippings in subseries 4.1).
Many letters relate to Lawton's political career during these years. From 1879 to 1881, Lawton received a number of letters from friends and acquaintances regarding political activities; Lawton was in 1879 working on behalf of gubernatorial candidate Thomas M. Norwood, and there was talk at this time of sending Lawton to the United States Senate. Several letters in 1882 concern Lawton's annual address as president of the American Bar Association, as well as the race for the Georgia senate in the fall of that year. Papers after 1885 include correspondence with Thomas F. Bayard of the Department of State concerning various attempts to appoint Lawton minister to Russia and Mexico, which were hampered by his Civil War activities, and finally his appointment as envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Austria-Hungary in 1887 (see also Series 2). A letterbook, 1887-1888, contains Lawton's Vienna correspondence. Also included are two letters from Varina Howell Davis (4 July 1890 and 27 November 1895). (Letters written by Sarah Hillhouse Alexander Lawton to her sister Louisa Fredricka Alexander Gilmer during these years can be found in the Jerome Francis Gilmer Papers (#276), as can letters from Louisa Porter Gilmer to her mother, written while Louisa was visiting her aunt Sarah in Vienna.)
While Lawton was in Vienna, his son, A. R. Lawton Jr., in Savannah handled his business interests. Among the business correspondents were Evan Howell of the Atlanta Constitution, T. M. Norwood, Charles P. Taft, D. H. Hill, J. A. Early, Rufus King, and John T. Metcalfe.
Letters from this period are addressed to Daisy Beckwith Lawton and other members of her family, chiefly from the Beckwith family and from Louisa P. Minis, Barbour Lathrop, and others travelling in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Beginning around 1912, there are letters from A. R. Lawton's children, as well as from Louisa and J. F. Minis of Rockwood at Clarkesville, Ga. There is 1921 correspondence between William Howard Taft and A. R. Lawton, including two holograph letters from Taft, about an invitation to Taft to address the Georgia Bar Association.
The earliest papers in this series consist largely of deeds to land in Granville County, N.C., and Beaufort District, S.C. Also included are the 1818 and 1822 wills of Sarah Lawton, and the 1857, 1862, 1865 and 1867 wills of Alexander James Lawton, as well as some material regarding Lawton's estate and burial. Other materials include documents relating to the hiring of slaves and freedmen, bills from the University of Virginia and the Monroe Female College (Forsythe, Ga.), and statements of accounts with various merchants. Lawton's official appointment and passport as envoy to Austria-Hungary is dated 1887. Material relating to Lawton's involvement with the railroad includes a draft of a bill to incorporate a railroad.
Bound items in this series include the 1810-1840 plantation journal of Alexander James Lawton; an account book of Sarah Lawton, 1889-1890; and another account book, 1893-1897.
The plantation documented in the journal was at Blackswamp, near Robertville, in Saint Peter's Parish, Beaufort District, S.C. Entries in the journal are concise, yet detailed, and describe activities on the plantation Lawton ran in cooperation with his father and then with his mother, on which they raised cotton, rice, and corn. Lawton wrote about methods of planting, fertilizing, and cultivation; the effects of weather and sickness among slaves on planting; and the provision of supplies to slaves. He recorded allowances of blankets and other articles for his slaves, and of cash for their hogs, baskets, etc. Lawton also noted the amounts planted and harvested and the income received each year, listing which slaves were or would be responsible for what work. In addition to these notes, there are diary-like entries describing distractions from plantation business, such as the construction of a house for his mother and a Baptist parsonage, his own preoccupations with his mercantile business, and reflections on business concerns. On 19 March 1813, there is a record of an unsuccessful effort by relatives and others to settle in the Mississippi territory.
Sarah Lawton's 1889-1890 account book contains records of her account with the Central Railroad and Banking Company. The other account book, 1893-1897, contains records of various expenses with merchants.
Speeches written by A. R. Lawton (probably Alexander Rudolph Lawton) for the dedications of various monuments and for delivery before the Cosmos Club.
Includes newspaper clippings and two scrapbooks kept by members of the Lawton family.
Clippings relating to the Lawton family, including obituaries and death notices, articles regarding the careers of A. R. Lawton and E. P. Alexander, and reminiscences of the Civil War preserved by Lawton. (For further Lawton family history, see material in Series 5.)
Poems, short stories, advertisements, anecdotes, and newspaper articles of general interest. Also included are several Pastoral Letters from the 1870s regarding the Episcopalian church, 1876 articles on yellow fever outbreaks, and coverage of earthquakes and fires in Savannah and Charleston.
Three short diaries: one (written as a letter) describes a walking tour through parts of Georgia and North Carolina; one (also written as a letter) describes a sea voyage from New York to Liverpool; the third is a diary of Sarah Hillhouse Alexander Lawton, containing brief entries describing her social life. Other material in this series includes family history and genealogical materials (see also the June 1895 letter from W. H. Robert to his cousin A. R. Lawton Jr., regarding family history); a record of the proceedings of the trustees of Blackswamp academy, 1818, of which Alexander James Lawton was secretary; a published poem by Sarah Hillhouse Alexander Lawton entitled "Drama of the Widower"; and diplomas of Alexander Robert Lawton.
Of special interest among the two folders of miscellaneous material in this series are three battle notes of R. J. Ewell, A. R. Lawton, and Stonewall Jackson; Sarah Lawton's "letters list," 1866; an intermediate law exam, 1879; and a memorandum in which Alexander Robert Lawton refuted suggestions that he labored under "political disabilities," probably in relation to his potential appointment as envoy to Russia. Other items include material related to the organization of the Fortnightly and Monday clubs (presumably in Savannah), 1883 and 1885, several poems, and a number of calling cards.
|Oversize Paper Folder OPF-415/1|
Robert E. Lee, carte-de-visite, undated #00415, Series: "6. Pictures, circa 1860-1890 and undated." P-415/5
Image is autographed by Lee, front and back. Inscription on verso reads: "Mrs. Lawton - with sincere regards of R.E. Lee."
|Special Format Image SF-P-415/9|
Processed by: Marla Miller, 1990
Encoded by: Roslyn Holdzkom, October 2006
Updated by: Nancy Kaiser, April 2021Back to Top