Alexander Hamilton Stephens letter to James M. Calhoun
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Alexander Hamilton Stephens letter to James M. Calhoun

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center. 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta, GA 30305. 404.814.4040.
Creator: Stephens, Alexander Hamilton, 1812-1883
Title: Alexander Hamilton Stephens letter to James M. Calhoun
Dates: 1862 September 8
Quantity: 1.0 Item(s)
Identification: ahc.MSS580f

Biographical/Historical Note

Alexander Hamilton Stephens (1812-1883) was born near Crawfordville in Taliaferro County, Georgia, to Matilda Marbury Somerville and Andrew Baskins Stephens. His mother died shortly after giving birth to him. At the age of fourteen, Stephens' father and step-mother died within days of each other and he and his siblings were dispersed to various relatives.

Several benefactors, including Presbyterian minister Alexander Hamilton Webster, recognized his intellectual strengths. Their patronage allowed Stephens to continue his education. He graduated from Franklin College (now the University of Georgia) in 1832 and passed the bar in 1834. Stephens was elected in 1836 as a representative in the Georgia Legislature. Stephens served as a United States congressman (1843-1859), working on sectional legislation. Stephens established himself as an active politician at the state and national levels and served as the Vice-President of the Confederate States of America.

Following the end of the Civil War, Stephens was imprisoned at Fort Warren in Boston, Massachusetts, for five months. When he returned to Georgia, he was elected as senator, but the Republicans refused to seat him. He penned A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States a two volume apology for the Confederacy. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1873-1882) and he became governor of Georgia in 1882. He died in office the following year.

Stephens never married. His grave is located on the front lawn of his home, Liberty Hall, in Crawfordville, Georgia. The site is now the A.H. Stephens Historic State Park near Augusta, Georgia.

James M. Calhoun (February 12, 1811-October 1, 1875) was born near Abbeville, South Carolina, and moved to Decatur, Georgia, at the age of eighteen to live with his brother, Ezekiel Calhoun, after the death of their father. Calhoun studied law and passed the bar in 1832. Calhoun married Emma Eliza Dabney (1813-1860) in 1832 and they had ten children. He became the sixteenth mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, (1862-1866) governing the city during the Civil War and surrendering it to William T. Sherman on September 2, 1864. Calhoun continued to live in Atlanta until his death.

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains a letter written by Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens to James M. Calhoun, mayor of Atlanta, Georgia. The letter discusses Calhoun's recent appointment to civil governor of Atlanta by General Braxton Bragg. Stephens writes that the prohibition of the sale of alcohol to soldiers is unconstitutional according to the Confederate Constitution and the Rules and Articles of the Confederacy. He also states that Calhoun’s new position as civil governor of Atlanta is unprecedented and contrary to the laws of the Confederate government.

Index Terms

Atlanta (Ga.)--History
Calhoun, James Montgomery, 1811-1875
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865

General Notes

America's Turning Point: Documenting the Civil War Experience in Georgia received support from a Digitizing Historical Records grant awarded to the Atlanta History Center, Georgia Historical Society, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the Digital Library of Georgia by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Alexander Hamilton Stephens letter to James M. Calhoun, MSS580f, Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, 1989

Description Control

This collection was re-processed in 2012.


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted through the Kenan Research Center.

Container List



1Letter, 1862 View online.