Davis, Jefferson (1808-1889) and John W. French (1808-1871) Archive Related to their Association
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Davis, Jefferson (1808-1889) and John W. French (1808-1871) Archive Related to their Association.
A small group of documents revealing Reverend French's attempt to extricate himself from pre-secession association with Jefferson Davis, including: three letters in response to French's requests to have his own original letters sent to Davis returned to him, one signed by William Seward, one from an employee at the State Department, and the third from a journalist; one original letter written by French to Davis on 9 December 1860, (twenty-four pages) discussing the idea of secession in great detail; secretarial copies produced at French's request by the State Department of his letters sent to Davis between December 19 and 21, 1860 (twenty pages); and a copy of French's appeal to the case against him put forward by the Secretary of War during the summer of 1861, alleging that French sided with the cause of the secessionists (thirteen pages); a typed copy of a letter sent to French by Davis on 12 December 1860; and a secretarial copy of a document detailing the plans of the militant secessionists, the errors of those plans, and strategies to defeat them (single page, inscribed on both sides).
After Jefferson Davis's resignation from the Senate, and his state's secession from the Union, French fell under suspicion as a possible traitor. He defended himself before the Secretary of War on July 17, 1861, declaring his loyalty to the Constitution, the Union, and the administration, and trying to distance himself from Davis, if not personally, certainly politically, with great vigor. "I expostulated with Mr. Davis in letter after letter, pointing out measures under the Constitution, and showing the dangers and folly of secession. I did this both from personal affection for Mr. Davis, and also from a desire to do what I could to save the country." The copy of French's statement of self-defense reveals his close connection to President James Buchanan and General Winfield Scott. "I advised bringing President Lincoln incognito to Washington, more than a month before the inauguration, and the forming of a perfect chain of offensive and defensive measures between Mr. Buchanan, Mr. Lincoln and General Scott, known only to themselves. Mr. Scott still has these letters of mine on this subject."
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