Collection Number: 00502

Collection Title: C. G. Memminger Papers, 1803-1915

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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the Duplication Policy section for more information.

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Size About 250 items (0.5 linear feet)
Abstract C. G. Memminger was a lawyer of Charleston, S.C., and Secretary of the Treasury, Confederate States of America. The collection includes scattered papers, chiefly 1860-1868, of Christopher Gustavus Memminger, including letters, 1803-1812, from members of the Memminger family in Germany; letters, 1854, from Memminger to his wife, Mary Wilkinson Memminger, from Europe; correspondence relating to secession; some official correspondence as secretary of the Confederate Treasury; papers of Thomas B. Memminger, Confederate army surgeon; papers concerning Reconstruction in South Carolina; and an account book, 1838-1855, of expenses at Memminger's summer home at Flat Rock, N.C. Also included are a few personal letters of the Tracy family of Macon, Ga.
Creator Memminger, C. G. (Christopher Gustavus), 1803-1888
Curatorial Unit Southern Historical Collection
Language English.
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Most of the collection is available on microfilm; papers of William B. Johnston, added in 1997, are not on microfilm.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the C. G. Memminger Papers #502, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Received from Edward Memminger before 1940 and purchased from Elbie Stiles of Franklin, N.C., in December 1997 (Acc. 97196).
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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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.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Christopher Gustavus Memminger was born 9 January 1803, in the town of Nayhinger, Duchy of Wurtemburg, Germany. His father, Gotfried Memminger, was an officer in the Prince Elector's Battalion of Foot Jaegars and was killed in action less that one month after the birth of his only son. His mother, Eberhardina Kohler Memminger, emigrated shortly thereafter with her father's family to Charleston, S.C., where she contracted became ill and died. In 1807, Memminger's grandparents placed him in the Orphan House in Charleston. There he attracted the attention of Thomas Bennett, a wealthy Charlestonian who later became governor of South Carolina. At age eleven, Memminger was taken into the Bennett home on a basis of equality with Bennett's own children. He entered South Carolina College in 1815 at the age of twelve, and was graduated four years later, second in his class. He studied law in the office of Joseph Bennett and, after becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States, was admitted to the bar in 1825. He became a successful attorney and began a long career in state politics, aligning himself with the Unionist group. He served in the state legislature from 1836 until 1860, with the exception of the years 1853 and 1854, and was elected again for one term in 1877. He was a staunch opponent of nullification and a grudging supporter of the Compromise of 1850. In 1860, he was chosen, partly because he was known to be a moderate opposed to secession, to present to Virginia the South Carolina proposals for common defense measures following John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. By December of that year, however, he had become a secessionist and was a member of the convention called by the South Carolina legislature for the purpose of enacting an ordinance of secession. Memminger was named to the committee which drafted a statement of the causes which justified the secession. Memminger was named to the committee which drafted a statement of the causes which justified the secession of South Carolina from the Union. He also was a representative from South Carolina to the provisional congress of the seceded states and was the chairman of the committee of that body which drafted the constitution of the Confederate States of America.

In 1861, Memminger became the first Secretary of the Treasury of the Confederacy, holding that difficult position until 14 June 1864, when he resigned and retired to private life at his summer home in Flat Rock, N.C. After the war, he returned to Charleston, applied for and, in 1866, received a presidential pardon, and resumed the practice of law. He became involved in a number of business enterprises, including a sulfuric acid and super-phosphate plant and the Spartanburg and Asheville Railroad Company. He continued his service to public schools, which had its beginnings in 1834 when he was first named to the Board of Free School Commissioners of Charleston. Memminger was characterized in his own lifetime as the founder of the public school system of Charleston and has since been recognized for his influence upon the public school system of the entire state.

Biographical Note is taken from Guide to the Microfilm Edition of the Christopher G. Memminger Papers. Southern Historical Collection: 1966.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The early material in the Christopher Gustavus Memminger Papers includes copies of letters from the European branch of the Memminger family, which bear upon the ancestry of Christopher G. Memminger and letters written by Memminger to his wife while he traveled in Europe in 1854.

Materials concerned with political affairs are quite limited prior to 1858 and do not become common until early 1860. A considerable correspondence concerning the Memminger mission to Virginia in January 1860 is supplemented by a number of undated notes in Memminger's handwriting on this subject. There is some discussion of the election of 1860 and of the sentiment in Virginia and the Carolinas concerning disunion. For the period during which Memminger served as Secretary of the Treasury of the Confederate States of America, there are a number of official reports to the Confederate Congress, as well as some of the official correspondence of the Secretary with other officials, particularly to William B. Johnston of Georgia. Most of the material in this period is concerned with the fiscal affairs of the Confederacy. In the period immediately after the war, there are materials relating to Reconstruction in South Carolina, to Memminger's ideas concerning the solution of the problems posed by the presence of great numbers of former slaves in the South, and to Memminger's pardon.

For the years after 1870, the papers are scanty, but contain some material concerning the Spartanburg and Asheville Railroad Company and Memminger's law practice, as well as some relating to the memorial erected to him in Charleston shortly before his death in recognition of his work as a pioneer in public education. Finally, there is a one-volume account book concerned primarily with the expenses of the summer home, Rock Hill, at Flat Rock, N.C.

Also included in the collection are the papers of Thomas B. Memminger, son of Christopher G. Memminger, consisting largely of orders and memoranda connected with his post as a surgeon in the Confederate Army. There are also a few personal papers of the Tracy family of Georgia.

Collection Overview is taken from Guide to the Microfilm Edition of the Christopher G. Memminger Papers. Southern Historical Collection: 1966.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Papers of Christopher G. Memminger, 1803-1915

About 200 items.

Arrangement: chronological .

The 1803-1859 folder contains some early papers of C. G. Memminger: a corrected essay he wrote at the age of twelve about the War of 1812, the 1821 Minutes of the Charleston Lying Club and Memminger's certificate of U.S. citizenship from 1824. There are letters from his family in Stuttgart, including a translation of the letter his father wrote in 1803 announcing Memminger's birth. Also included are a deed to a burial plot at St. Peter's Church in Charleston, and two receipts for pews in Grace Church, a series of letters to his wife from a trip to Europe and a letter, 1858, from President James Buchanan.

The 1860 folder contains a great deal of material discussing the attitude in Virginia toward the secession movement and Memminger's trip as an envoy to the Virginia Assembly. Included are notes for his speech before the General Assembly and correspondence with William Porcher Miles. There is also a copy of a letter from President Buchanan to Governor Pickens of South Carolina introducing Gen. Caleb Cushing as his envoy to South Carolina to try to quash plans of secession.

The 1861 folder contains correspondence of the Treasury Department of the Confederacy: communications to the Georgia Commissioners, William B. Johnston and E. B. Elmore, several reports on the financial situation of the Confederacy to the Confederate Congress, telegrams on financial matters, a list of funds to be taken from the banks of Georgia and given to the Confederate Treasury, and a letter to Beverly Tucker, Esq. concerning the regulation of Confederate exports.

The 1862-1863 folder contains a letter of introduction to General Robert E. Lee for William B. Johnston, receipts of taxes paid, letter to the Governor of South Carolina concerning the measure adopted by the Congress that forbade export of cotton without permission of the Congress. It also includes a telegram from W. B. Johnston and a letter from John D. Phelan concerning real estate.

The 1864-1868 folder contains a copy of Memminger's letter of resignation of his position as Secretary of the Treasury and a letter from Jefferson Davis concerning his resignation. It also contains tax receipts, a copy of Memminger's letter to President Andrew Johnson about Memminger's application for pardon and about the question of how to deal with the recently emancipated slaves. The folder also includes signed documents affirming Memminger's loyalty to the United States of America and documents concerning the restoration of his property. Separated into an oversize folder is Memminger's pardon signed by President Johnson. There is an inventory of a box filled with personal business papers, mostly stocks and bonds. This folder includes a document concerning Memminger acting as a trustee for the Keith family of Charleston. There is also a letter in French from a relative in Verdun-sur-Meuse, France.

The 1870-1915 folder contains a blank summons to appear at the Circuit Court of the State of South Carolina, three letters in French from relatives in Europe and translations of these letters, a letter with a page missing to Col. H. D. Capers about the sale of Confederate securities, an article about subscription to capital stock of the Greenville and French Broad Railroad Company, a table of distances for the railroad from Cincinnati, Cumberland Gap, and Charleston, a survey of the Greenville and French Broad Railroad, and a list of the Board of Directors of the Spartanburg and Asheville Railroad. An 1881 letter about the Trinity concerns the issue of whether the name Jehovah can apply to the entire Trinity or just a part. This folder also contains some family papers from after Memminger's death: a copy of the inscription of his memorial, a stock certificate for the Queen Insurance Company, a letter from the Climate and Crop Service dated 1901 from E. R. Memminger, and a letter from C. M. McClung and Co. to E. R. Memminger.

The folder of undated material contains a speech in Latin and a translation; an answer to a Bill of Complaint filed by Romulus M. Saunders and Anna H. Saunders against C. G. Memminger concerning the will of William B. Johnston; an inventory of a box of papers, mostly stocks and bonds; a letter to E. Memminger from Jessie Kohler; and a student essay written about C. G. Memminger.

The following is a partial list of the correspondents, arranged in alphabetical order: C. W. Andrews, William Waters Boyce, James Buchanan, Henry D. Capers, Col. T. Coleman, Jefferson Davis, William H. Gist, William Jervey, Bradley T. Johnson, William B. Johnston, John H. Kohler, John Letcher, D. H. London, Gustavus E. Memminger, Leontine Memminger, Thomas B. Memminger, Augustus S. Merrimon, William Porcher Miles, Benjamin F. Perry, John D. Phelan, and William H. Thomas.

The folder of newspaper clippings contains clippings, 1850-1875. Many concern railroad affairs.

folder 9 contains an account book containing the records of expenses mostly for the Memminger residence, Rock Hill at Flat Rock, N.C. Dates range from 1837 to 1862.

Folder 1


Folder 2


Folder 3


Folder 4


Folder 5


Folder 6


Folder 7

Undated Papers

Folder 8

Newspapers, 1850-1875

Folder 9

Account Book

Reel M-502/1

Microfilm copy of C. G. Memminger papers

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Papers of Thomas B. Memminger, 1861-1901

About 30 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Thomas B. Memminger, C. G. Memminger's son, was a Confederate surgeon during the Civil War. These papers date mostly from this service. His papers are mostly copies of orders, but also include a requisition form for medical supplies for field service; a license to practice medicine in Charleston, S.C., after the war; a Certificate of Inspection for prostitutes filled out in jest; a letter from Henry Clay Dean asking for Memminger's opinion on an court case in which the defendant made an insanity plea; and a letter from his relative E. R. Memminger about settling C. G. Memminger's estate.

Folder 10

Papers of Thomas B. Memminger

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Tracy Family Papers, 1861-1870 and undated

3 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

These are letters of the Judge Edward Dorr Tracy family of Macon, Ga. Mrs. William B. Johnston was a member of the Tracy family. The papers of William B. Johnston, consisting of his correspondence with Memminger, are contained in Series 1 above. This series contains a letter from Major Philemon Tracy to his sister in 1861 when he was stationed at Yorktown with the 6th Georgia Regiment . He died the next year at Antietam (Sharpsburg). A single undated sheet contains three letters to Judge E. D. Tracy from his three children, Anne (Mrs. William B. Johnston), E. D., Jr., and Philemon. General Edward Dorr Tracy, Jr., died 1 May 1863 at Port Gibson during the Vicksburg Campaign. There is also a stock certificate in the Cotton States Life Insurance Co. made out to M. C. Tracy (probably a daughter of E. D. Tracy, Jr.; his two daughters were raised by Anne Johnston.).

Folder 11

Tracy Family Papers

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Oversize Papers

Extra Oversize Paper Folder XOPF-502/1

Oversize papers

Oversize Paper Folder OPF-502/1b

Oversize papers

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Oversize papers XOPF-502/1, OPF-502/1b

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