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Guide to the William H. Anderson Letters

MSN/EA 5038

 

Collection Summary

Title: William H. Anderson Letters
Dates: 1859-1862
Collection No.: MSN/EA 5038
Creator: Anderson, William H. (William Henry), 1836-1902
Extent: 51 folders; 1 container; .5 linear feet
Language: Collection material in English
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: A collection of about 50 manuscript personal letters directed to the Lowell, Massachusetts law student William H. Anderson. Many are written from friends around Natchez, Mississippi, during the secession crisis of 1860-61.

Selected Search Terms

United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Causes
United States -- Politics and government -- 1857-1861 -- Sources
Secession -- United States -- History -- Sources
Secession -- Mississippi -- Sources
Natchez (Miss.) -- History
Natchez (Miss.) -- Social conditions -- 19th century

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], William H, Anderson Letters, [Folder no.], Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: The Anderson letteers were purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries in January 2015, from Michael Brown Rare Books of Philadelphia (List 128, item 33). Arranged and described 2015, by Marek Mazurek. Finding aid 2015, by Marek Mazurek and George Rugg.

Biographical Note

The recipient of the letters, William Henry Anderson, was born in Londonderry, New Hampshire on 12 January 1836. He graduated from Yale in 1859, and in 1859-60 taught school at Sligo Plantation in Adams County, Mississippi. On his return North he studied law at the office of Morse & Stevens in Lowell, Massachusetts, passing the bar in December 1862. Until 1875 he was a partner in the law firm Stevens & Anderson, thereafter practicing alone. In 1868 he married Elizabeth Hine of Springfield, Massachusettts. Anderson died at Lowell on 14 April 1902.

The three primary authors of the letters are:

David Percy Williams, b. ca. 1822 in Natchez, Mississippi. Prior to the Civil War Williams owned Sligo Plantation near Kingston in Adams County, Mississippi, around 15 miles from Natchez. The 1860 Federal census indicates that he held 74 slaves.

Joel Jackson Hough (1835-1897), a native of Groton, Connecticut, and an 1859 classmate of William Anderson's at Yale. From July 1860 to March 1861 Hough taught school at "Retirement", a plantation south of Natchez owned by Mary Bennett and her husband Edwin. He also preached to the plantation slaves. Hough subsequently graduated from Union Theological Seminary and served as pastor at several Congregational churches in New England and New York.

John Oscar Teil (1839-1909), a native of Wilmot, New Hampshire, who followed William Anderson as teacher at Sligo Plantation (December 1860 to March 1861). He was admitted to the New Hampshire bar in 1862 and subsequently served in the three-month 7th Rhode Island Cavalry Squadron (June to September 1862). From 1868 he practiced law in Boston.

Scope and Content Note

Of the 51 letters in the collection, 50 were directed to William H. Anderson. Twenty-three of these were written by David P. Williams, from April 1859 to October 1861; 16 by Joel J. Hough, July 1859 to February 1862; and 12 by J. Oscar Teil, November 1860 to August 1862. The letters were received by Anderson before and after his sojourn in the South; there is a chronological gap in the correspondence, from mid-1859 to mid-1860, that encompasses the time Anderson spent at Sligo. The letters were received in the North—probably at Lowell, for the most part, though no envelopes are present. In 1859 Williams recruited Anderson by letter to teach at his plantation school. Even after Anderson returned North in mid-1860 Williams continued to write regularly, urging him to return or seeking advice on a replacement. He also mentions personal and family matters, like the possible sale of the Sligo plantation and the deaths of four of his children. Letters written on 4 January and 11 March 1861 discuss the deepening divide between North and South. Hough's letters to his Yale classmate (and former teaching colleague in Mississippi) provide an overview of the unfolding crisis from a very different perspective. Despite Williams' insistence that candidates for his teaching positions be "sound" on slavery, Hough was anything but, and viewed Southern life and culture with a partisan Republican eye. In six long letters written from 19 November 1860 to 4 April 1861 he treats the evolving political situation in New Orleans, Natchez, and the hinterlands in considerable detail. Teil's letters to Anderson from the South likewise describe the secession crisis, if in a less irreverent manner. His final two letters date from his period of service in the 7th Rhode Island Cavalry.

Arrangement Note

Letters are arranged chronologically, one item per folder.

Container List

  • Letter. David P. Williams, Natchez, Mississippi, to Rev. I. W. Hough, n.p., 1859 April 20. Folder 1 (MSN/EA 5038-01).
    ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet.
    Williams asks Hough to recommend a candidate for a teaching position at Sligo. He mentions that J. J. Hough (the recipient's brother) has already accepted a similar position at the Bennetts' plantation, "Retirement".
    • Letter. David P. Williams, Natchez, Missisippi, to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1859 May 30. Folder 2 (MSN/EA 5038-02).
      ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet.
      Williams offers Anderson a teaching position at Sligo.
      • Letter. David P. Williams, Natchez, Missisippi, to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1859 June 27. Folder 3 (MSN/EA 5038-03).
        ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet.
        Williams writes Anderson about travel plans and seasonal contagion.
        • Letter. Joel J. Hough, "Retirement", Adams County, Missisippi, to [William H. Anderson], n.p., 1859 July 16. Folder 4 (MSN/EA 5038-04).
          ALS, 6 pages on 3 sheets.
          Hough writes to his former Yale classmate describing his journey to Natchez and the setting of the plantation itself. He notes the elegance of the plantation houses, saying "we live at Retirement like kings." He goes on to describe the students he is teaching and the mildness of the climate.
          • Letter. David P. Williams, Natchez, Missisippi, to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1859 August 13. Folder 5 (MSN/EA 5038-05).
            ALS, 2 pages on 1 folded sheet.
            Williams writes to Anderson to detail travel arrangements for Anderson's upcoming trip to Natchez.
            • Letter. [Joel J. Hough], n.p., to [William H. Anderson], n.p., [1859 August]. Folder 6 (MSN/EA 5038-06).
              AL, 2 pages on 1 sheet.
              Hough writes to Anderson and passes on Williams' concerns about Anderson's travel schedule. The rest of the letter deals with personal matters; Hough mentions he was invited to officiate a "negro wedding."
              • Letter. David P. Williams, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1860 July 28. Folder 7 (MSN/EA 5038-07).
                ALS, 1 page on 1 sheet.
                Williams writes to Anderson concerning a piece of Anderson's luggage which is being shipped from New Orleans to New York after Anderson left Natchez.
                • Letter. Joel J. Hough, "Retirement", Adams County, Mississippi, to [William H. Anderson], n.p., 1860 August 8. Folder 8 (MSN/EA 5038-08).
                  ALS, 4 pages on 1 folded sheet.
                  Hough writes to Anderson to talk about his teaching and local affairs generally. He mentions an incident in which an overseer was killed by a slave "on one of Dr. Metcalf's places."
                  • Letter. David P. Williams, Cape Island (Cape May), New Jersey, to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1860 August 13. Folder 9 (MSN/EA 5038-09).
                    ALS, 4 pages on 1 folded sheet.
                    Williams writes to Anderson about the plantation school and other personal matters. He mentions he is considering selling Sligo.
                    • Letter. David P. Williams, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1860 August 15. Folder 10 (MSN/EA 5038-10).
                      ALS, 4 pages on 1 sheet.
                      Williams writes to Anderson about his impending travel plans in the North.
                      • Letter. David P. Williams, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1860 August 18. Folder 11 (MSN/EA 5038-11).
                        ALS, 2 pages on 1 sheet.
                        More on the plantation school; Anderson has received another offer to teach for a Mr. Sepions.
                        • Letter. David P. Williams, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1860 August 21. Folder 12 (MSN/EA 5038-12).
                          ALS, 2 pages on 1 sheet.
                          Williams continues to encourage Anderson to return to Natchez.
                          • Letter. David P. Williams, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1860 August 27. Folder 13 (MSN/EA 5038-13).
                            ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet.
                            Williams writes to Anderson with instructions on how to treat yellow fever (which Anderson had contracted in the South and seems not to have recovered from). Williams also expresses his desire to retain Anderson as a teacher if he decides not to sell Sligo.
                            • Letter. Joel J. Hough, n.p., to [William H. Anderson], n.p., 1860 September 12. Folder 14 (MSN/EA 5038-14).
                              ALS, 8 pages on 2 folded sheets.
                              Hough writes in a humorous vein of his boredom at Retirement during the four-week August "vacation."
                              • Letter. David P. Williams, "Woodstock", to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1860 September 29. Folder 15 (MSN/EA 5038-15).
                                ALS, 4 pages on 1 folded sheet.
                                More on the possibility of Anderson's returning South, given Williams' decision to retain Sligo.
                                • Letter. David P. Williams, "Woodstock", to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1860 September 29. Folder 16 (MSN/EA 5038-16).
                                  ALS, 4 pages on 1 folded sheet.
                                  Williams sends a copy of MSN/EA 5038-15 to an unidentified recipient, to be forwarded to Anderson out of fear the original might miscarry.
                                  • Letter. David P. Williams, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1860 October 12. Folder 17 (MSN/EA 5038-17).
                                    ALS, 2 pages on 1 sheet.
                                    Williams regrets that Anderson has decided not to accept his job offer, due to poor health.
                                    • Letter. David P. Williams, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1860 October 13. Folder 18 (MSN/EA 5038-18).
                                      ALS, 4 pages on 1 folded sheet.
                                      Williams writes to Anderson to further express his sypmathies and to obtain Anderson's help in finding a new teacher. He emphasizes that the new teacher must ". . .either be sound upon that question [i.e., slavery] or have the good sense to hold his peace with both White and Blacks. This is no time for an Abolitionaist to go South and express his views."
                                      • Letter. [Joel J. Hough], n.p, to [William H. Anderson], n.p., 1860 October 18. Folder 19 (MSN/EA 5038-19).
                                        AL, 4 pages on 1 folded sheets.
                                        Hough relates a string of anecdotes conveying the region's increasing turmoil and anti-Northern sentiment: the danger of reading Northern papers; the hanging of a photographer who was found to be "tampering with slaves"; the burning of 125 bales of cotton by slaves at an upriver plantation.
                                        • Letter. David P. Williams, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1860 October 20. Folder 20 (MSN/EA 5038-20).
                                          ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet.
                                          Williams writes to Anderson to solicit Anderson's recommendation in hiring a new teacher.
                                          • Letter. David P. Williams, "Woodstock", to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1860 October 29. Folder 21 (MSN/EA 5038-21).
                                            ALS, 2 pages on 1 sheet.
                                            Williams writes to Anderson to say that he has offered the job to J. Oscar Teil, an acquaintance of Anderson's.
                                            • Letter. David P. Williams, "Woodstock", to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1860 October 31. Folder 22 (MSN/EA 5038-22).
                                              ALS, 2 pages on 1 sheet.
                                              Williams writes to Anderson concerning the details of Teil's teaching position.
                                              • Letter. David P. Williams, "Woodstock", to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1860 November 1. Folder 23 (MSN/EA 5038-23).
                                                ALS, 2 pages on 1 sheet.
                                                Williams writes to Anderson about the teaching position for Teil. Williams also describes the somber mood of his family following the death of his daughter Susie.
                                                • Letter. David P. Williams, Natchez, Mississippi, to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1860 November 7. Folder 24 (MSN/EA 5038-24).
                                                  ALS, 2 pages on 1 sheet.
                                                  Williams writes to Anderson about his correspondence with Teil.
                                                  • Letter. J. Oscar Teil, "Plummer's Store", to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1860 November 12. Folder 25 (MSN/EA 5038-25).
                                                    ALS, 1 page on 1 sheet.
                                                    Teil writes to Anderson to say he forwarded Anderson two of Williams' letters.
                                                    • Letter. Joel J. Hough, "Retirement", Adams County, Mississippi, to [William H. Anderson], n.p., 1860 November 19. Folder 26 (MSN/EA 5038-26).
                                                      ALS, 8 pages on 2 folded sheets.
                                                      Hough responds to a letter from Anderson with news of the presidential election. He celebrates Lincoln's victory in New York, describes local reactions, and insists that the Federal government must be aggressive in responding to acts of rebellion, in South Carolina and elsewhere.
                                                      • Letter. J. Oscar Teil, "Sligo", Adams County, Mississippi, to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1860 December 3. Folder 27 (MSN/EA 5038-27).
                                                        ALS, 4 pages on 1 folded sheet.
                                                        News from Sligo. Teil says that two Williams daughters, Jessie and Jennie, have fallen ill with diptheria. The rest of the letter talks of Teil's journey South.
                                                        • Letter. [Joel J. Hough], "Retirement", Adams County, Mississippi, to [William H. Anderson], n.p., 1860 December 11. Folder 28 (MSN/EA 5038-28).
                                                          AL, 8 pages on 2 folded sheets.
                                                          Hough writes to Anderson mostly of personal and social matters. He mentions Jessie Williams' death from diptheria and his first meeting with Teil. He also describes the political climate in New Orleans, describing it as "equal to Paris during the 'Reign of Terror'."
                                                          • Letter. Joel J. Hough, "Retirement", Adams County, Mississippi, to [William H. Anderson], n.p., 1861 January 3. Folder 29 (MSN/EA 5038-29).
                                                            AL, 6 pages on 1 folded sheet and 1 sheet.
                                                            News from "Retirement", with much on the local political climate. Hough writes of the secession conventions in Louisiana and Mississippi, saying that "before this letter reaches you I shall be residing in a foreign county." He also speaks of the militarization of the South: "It may be that it will be a peaceful revolution, but it will be an anomaly if it is & I expect nothing else than a civil war yet. The South are not idle but are forming military companies & arming them in the best style regardless of cost."
                                                            • Letter. David P. Williams, Natchez, Mississippi, to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1861 January 4. Folder 30 (MSN/EA 5038-30).
                                                              ALS, 4 pages on 1 folded sheet.
                                                              Williams writes to Anderson of personal and political matters. He describes the hardships his family is going through, having lost four children in 15 months to illness. The rest of the letter talks about the secession crisis and Williams states, "it is better to separate peacibly if we can, fighting if we must."
                                                              • Letter. Joel J. Hough, "Retirement", Adams County, Mississippi, to [William H. Anderson], n.p., 1861 January 24-25. Folder 31 (MSN/EA 5038-31).
                                                                ALS, 8 pages on 2 folded sheets.
                                                                Hough writes to Anderson to discuss personal and political matters. He states that a slave insurrection "would almost [be] an impossibility" and goes on to say that a war fought on Southern ground would be difficult for the North to win, since every Southerner feels "it is victory or poverty and death."
                                                                • Letter. Joel J. Hough, "Retirement", Adams County, Mississippi, to [William H. Anderson], n.p., 1861 February 18. Folder 32 (MSN/EA 5038-32).
                                                                  ALS, 8 pages on 2 folded sheets.
                                                                  Hough writes to Anderson of personal and political matters. He begins the letter by talking about the school and other personal affairs. He then writes about the growing hostility and militarization in the South and mentions that many men in Natchez have joined military units. He further describes the South's readiness for war, saying it "will not be very easily whipped or kept whipped."
                                                                  • Letter. J. Oscar Teil, New Orleans, Louisiana, to [William H. Anderson], n.p., 1861 February 27. Folder 33 (MSN/EA 5038-33).
                                                                    ALS, 4 pages on 1 folded sheet.
                                                                    Teil writes to Anderson of personal and political matters. He informs Anderson of his intention to return North and study law and describes the students he is teaching. The rest of the letter speaks of the secession crisis, with Teil wishing for an amicable settlement and a restoration of the Union.
                                                                    • Letter. J. Oscar Teil, New Orleans, Louisiana, to [William H. Anderson], n.p., 1861 March 10. Folder 34 (MSN/EA 5038-34).
                                                                      ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet.
                                                                      Teil writes to Anderson to discuss his plans to return North as well as arragments to find a new teacher for Williams.
                                                                      • Letter. David P. Williams, New Orleans, Louisiana, to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1861 March 11. Folder 35 (MSN/EA 5038-35).
                                                                        ALS, 6 pages on 1 folded sheet and 1 sheet.
                                                                        Williams writes to Anderson and shares his insights on the state of affairs before the war. He describes the cultural differences between the North and South, saying: "We are two distinct people in feeling, and institutions and interest, and hope will agree to disagree in peace."
                                                                        • Letter. J. Oscar Teil, New Orleans, Louisiana, to [William H. Anderson], n.p., [1861] March 16. Folder 36 (MSN/EA 5038-36).
                                                                          ALS, 4 pages on 1 folded sheet.
                                                                          Teil writes to Anderson of his plans to return North. He also describes the political atmosphere in New Orleans after Lincoln's inauguration, saying "All the change I see . . . is a more thorough preparation for war."
                                                                          • Letter. David P. Williams, New Orleans, Louisiana, to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1861 April 2. Folder 37 (MSN/EA 5038-37).
                                                                            ALS, 2 pages on 1 sheet.
                                                                            Williams writes to Anderson discussing Teil's plans to return North.
                                                                            • Letter. J. Oscar Teil, New Orleans, Louisiana, to [William H. Anderson], n.p., [1861] April 4. Folder 38 (MSN/EA 5038-38).
                                                                              ALS, 4 pages on 1 folded sheet.
                                                                              Teil writes to Anderson describing travel plans for himself and the Williams family. The rest of the letter details the progress of Teil's students.
                                                                              • Letter. [Joel J. Hough], "Hudsonville", to [William H. Anderson], n.p., 1861 April 4. Folder 39 (MSN/EA 5038-39).
                                                                                AL, 4 pages on 1 folded sheet. Subsequent sheet(s) lacking.
                                                                                Hough writes to Anderson to say that he has been bought out of his teaching contract and is on his way north.
                                                                                • Letter. J. Oscar Teil, Franklin, New Hampshire, to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1861 May 17. Folder 40 (MSN/EA 5038-40).
                                                                                  ALS, 3 pages on 1 folded sheet.
                                                                                  Teil writes of personal matters and asks Anderson to inquire about openings at local law firms.
                                                                                  • Letter. J. Oscar Teil, Franklin, New Hampshire, to William H. Anderson, n.p., [1861] May 28. Folder 41 (MSN/EA 5038-41).
                                                                                    ALS, 2 pages on 1 sheet.
                                                                                    Teil writes of personal matters.
                                                                                    • Letter. J. Oscar Teil, Franklin, New Hampshire, to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1861 June 11. Folder 42 (MSN/EA 5038-42).
                                                                                      ALS, 4 pages on 1 folded sheet.
                                                                                      Teil writes of personal and political matters. He describes his work as a law clerk and goes on to mention that the New Hampshire legislature is appropriating funds for the raising of militia in each county. He also shares his understanding of the stakes at hand: "Extermination for one or the other side is my notion."
                                                                                      • Letter. Joel J. Hough, Williston, Vermont, to [William H. Anderson], n.p., 1861 June 20. Folder 43 (MSN/EA 5038-43).
                                                                                        ALS, 8 pages on 2 folded sheets.
                                                                                        Hough writes of his affairs since returning North.
                                                                                        • Letter. J. Oscar Teil, Franklin, New Hampshire, to [William H. Anderson], n.p., 1861 June 30. Folder 44 (MSN/EA 5038-44).
                                                                                          ALS, 4 pages on 1 folded sheet.
                                                                                          Teil writes of personal matters.
                                                                                          • Letter. Joel J. Hough, Groton, Connecticut, to [William H. Anderson], n.p., 1861 September 5. Folder 45 (MSN/EA 5038-45).
                                                                                            ALS, 8 pages on 2 folded sheets.
                                                                                            Hough writes of personal matters. He briefly mentions that a recruiter came to Groton and that "it won't be long before drafting will come into play."
                                                                                            • Letter. Joel J. Hough, Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York, to [William H. Anderson], n.p., 1861 October 18. Folder 46 (MSN/EA 5038-46).
                                                                                              ALS, 4 pages on 1 folded sheet.
                                                                                              Hough conveys news from the South. He says he has received word that the Union blockade is "a serious inconvience and becoming more so every day." The letter also includes a description of the seminary.
                                                                                              • Letter. David P. Williams, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to [William H. Anderson], n.p., 1861 October 20. Folder 47 (MSN/EA 5038-47).
                                                                                                ALS, 1 page on 1 sheet.
                                                                                                Williams writes to Anderson about finding a replacement teacher.
                                                                                                • Letter. Joel J. Hough, Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York, to [William H. Anderson], n.p., 1862 January 9-10. Folder 48 (MSN/EA 5038-48).
                                                                                                  ALS, 12 pages on 3 folded sheets.
                                                                                                  Hough writes to Anderson expressing doubts about Washington's management of the war. The letter also includes an account of Hough's studies at the seminary.
                                                                                                  • Letter. Joel J. Hough, New York, New York, to [William H. Anderson], n.p., 1862 February 27. Folder 49 (MSN/EA 5038-49).
                                                                                                    ALS, 8 pages on 2 folded sheets.
                                                                                                    Hough writes to Anderson to catch him up on news from their mutual friends.
                                                                                                    • Letter. J. Oscar Teil, Camp Sprague, Washington DC, to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1862 July 11. Folder 50 (MSN/EA 5038-50).
                                                                                                      ALS, 6 pages on 1 folded sheet and 1 sheet.
                                                                                                      Teil writes to Anderson detailing his life as a member of the 7th Rhode Island Cavalry. He describes life at Camp Sprague, and passes on news of the war, saying, "People look upon the result of the late battles as a success for McClellan, though he needs more troops badly. Drafting is looked upon favorably. The war is likely to continue now for a considerable time."
                                                                                                      • Letter. J. Oscar Teil, Camp Sprague, Washington DC, to William H. Anderson, n.p., 1862 August 14. Folder 51 (MSN/EA 5038-51).
                                                                                                        ALS, 10 pages on 2 folded sheets and 1 sheet.
                                                                                                        Teil writes to Anderson describing his company's duties as scouts and foragers. He also writes about large-scale troop movements in the surrounding area.