Davis, Jefferson (1808-1889) Archive of Correspondence with John W. French (1808-1871)
Four autograph letters signed by Jefferson Davis, written between 1856 and 1859; a document appointing French as Chaplain and Professor of geography, history, and ethics at West Point, signed by Davis as Secretary of War, with the original envelope; and two letters written by French to Davis, same period.
The first letter is an endorsement of French written by Davis on August 26, 1856, and signed twice by Davis; the second letter, also signed by Davis, with envelope a free frank signature as Secretary of War, concerns the courses taught by French at West Point; in the third letter (eight pages) Davis discusses French's plans and aspirations for his courses at the academy in detail, signaling his own frustration at not being able to better help. "To effect anything you must have the concurrence of the Superintendent and Inspector of the Academy, without this a Secretary of War can only commence a structure with the anticipation that at the close of his brief term it will be demolished. I have but little over two months longer to serve, for myself I wish the time was less [...]." Davis then moves on to personal news. "My little daughter who it gives me pleasure to remember received the first sacrament of the church at your hands has improved much since you saw her, and talks now so plainly that I find her quite an interesting companion, and very naturally suppose if you could see her how you would think her a wonderful child. Mrs. Davis has been suffering for some time past from neuralgia. We often speak of you, and can never cease to feel sorely the loss we sustained in your departure from Washington." The fourth letter, written from the Senate Chamber on 28 February 1859, concerns a recent setback delivered to French on a proposed curriculum. Davis sends his regrets and support for the changes made by the West Point board.
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