A Guide to the Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter Papers, 1807-1916 Hunter, Robert Mercer Taliaferro 25064

A Guide to the Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter Papers, 1807-1916

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Accession Number 25064


Library of Virginia

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© 2002 By the Library of Virginia.

Funding: Web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Processed by: Renee M. Savits

Library of Virginia
Accession number
Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter Papers, 1807-1916
Physical Characteristics
1.80 cubic feet (4 boxes)
Physical Location
Personal Papers Collection, Acc. 25064

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter Papers, 1807-1916. Accession 25064, Personal Papers Collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Acquisition Information

Gift of P. Stephen Hunter, per Charles Henry Ambler, 17 November 1959.

Biographical/Historical Information

Robert M. T. Hunter (1809-1887), son of James and Maria (Garnett) Hunter, of "Fronthill", Essex County, Virginia. He attended the University of Virginia (Charlottesville, Va.) and was married to Mary Evelina Dandridge. He was a lawyer and statesman, serving in the General Assembly as a member of the House of Delegates (1834-1837). He served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1837-1843, 1845-1847) and was a U.S. Senator and a member of the "Southern Triumverate" of the Democratic Party (1847-1861), together with Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) and Robert Augustus Toombs (1810-1885). While in the Senate Robert chaired the Committee on Finance and was the author of the Tariff Act of 1857. In 1861 he was named Secretary of State of the Confederacy, but in 1862 resigned to serve instead as senator for Virginia in the Confederate Congress. Hunter was also involved with Alexander H. Stephens (1812-1883) and John A. Campbell (1835-1880) to represent the Confederacy in the Hampton Roads Peace Conference of 1865, and in 1867 he helped to organize a local conservative party that helped to save Virginia from the Radical Reconstruction that was inflicted upon other southern states.

Scope and Content Information

Papers, 1807-1916, of Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter of Essex County, Virginia, including biographies, correspondence, clippings, legislative acts, notes, and speeches. The collection consists mainly of incoming correspondence and includes a number of letters published in ANNUAL REPORT OF THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE YEAR 1916, VOLUME II.

Noteworthy correspondents include James A. Seddon, Lewis E. Harvie, William Osborne Goode, John Letcher, Henry Wise, and John C. Calhoun. Topics range from local politics, to national issues such as European politics, custom duties, occupation of California, and events that led up to the Civil War, including the compromise of 1850 and John Brown's raid in 1859. The correspondence from John C. Calhoun involves Calhoun's political strength in the South (Sept. 30, 1842), Polk's cabinet (Mar. 26, 1845), and a proposal for a southern convention (May 16, 1845). Other noteworthy correspondence includes several letters from James A. Seddon, including the planning of Hunter's reelection to the Senate (Jan. 18, 1852), concerning Henry Wise (Nov. 4, 1857), supporting a state rights party (Feb. 7, 1852), and regarding the John Brown raid and its effect on the South and Virginia in particular (Dec. 26, 1859). Also of note are letters from Littleton W. Tazewell, dated 18 August 1850, regarding the compromise measures of 1850, and from Lewis E. Harvie, dated 16 June 1856, expressing the radical pro-Southern position toward the North at that time. Hunter also received several letters from the political members of Tammany Society regarding the election and support of the Calhoun party in New York.

Hunter received numerous letters from his constituents regarding jobs, autographs, letters of introduction, and military land bounties. Many of the letters from Hunter's constituents expressed the sectional and pro-slavery sentiments of the South. The papers also relate to his career as the chairman of the Senate finance committe and include legislative acts regarding federal treasury deposits (1850) and financial reports on the imports and exports to Europe (1856-1857). Also of note is a handwritten copy of the speech Hunter gave before the Democratic mass meeting at Poughkeepsie, New York, on 1 October 1856. In his speech, Hunter defended slavery and spoke out against the Republican party and the increasing anti-South feelings in the country.

Also in the collection are two biographies. One was about John C. Calhoun and was written by Hunter in the final years of his life. The biography on Calhoun is not complete though, beginning abruptly on page 100 and covering Calhoun's political career starting in 1820. The second biography, written by an unknown author, is on Hunter's political career and spans his days in the House of Representatives to his role in the peace conference of 1865.


Arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Contents List

Biographies, Calhoun, John C., nd. 1, Box 1, Folder
Biographies, Hunter, R.M.T., to 1861. 1, Box 2, Folder
Biographies, Hunter, R.M.T., 1861-188?. 1, Box 3, Folder
Clippings, 1851-1916. 1, Box 4, Folder
Correspondence, 1807-1826. 1, Box 5, Folder
Correspondence, 1827-1836. 1, Box 6, Folder
Correspondence, 1837-1844. 1, Box 7, Folder
Correspondence, 1845-1846. 1, Box 8, Folder
Correspondence, 1847-1851. 2, Box 1, Folder
Correspondence, 1852-1853. 2, Box 2, Folder
Correspondence, 1854-1855. 2, Box 3, Folder
Correspondence, 1856. 2, Box 4, Folder
Correspondence, 1857, January-June. 2, Box 5, Folder
Correspondence, 1857, July-December. 2, Box 6, Folder
Correspondence, 1858. 2, Box 7, Folder
Correspondence, 1859. 2, Box 8, Folder
Correspondence, 1860, January-February. 2, Box 9, Folder
Correspondence, 1860, March. 2, Box 10, Folder
Correspondence, 1860, April. 3, Box 1, Folder
Correspondence, 1860, May. 3, Box 2, Folder
Correspondence, 1860, June. 3, Box 3, Folder
Correspondence, nd. 3, Box 4, Folder
Correspondence (Published), 1826-1848. 3, Box 5, Folder
Correspondence (Published), 1849-1850. 3, Box 6, Folder
Correspondence (Published), 1851. 3, Box 7, Folder
Correspondence (Published), 1852. 3, Box 8, Folder
Correspondence (Published), 1853. 3, Box 9, Folder
Correspondence (Published), 1854. 3, Box 10, Folder
Correspondence (Published), 1855. 3, Box 11, Folder
Correspondence (Published), 1856. 3, Box 12, Folder
Correspondence (Published), 1857. 3, Box 13, Folder
Correspondence (Published), 1858. 3, Box 14, Folder
Correspondence (Published), 1859. 3, Box 15, Folder
Correspondence (Published), 1860. 4, Box 1, Folder
Correspondence (Published), 1861-1876. 4, Box 2, Folder
Legislative acts, 1850, nd. 4, Box 3, Folder
Miscellaneous, nd. 4, Box 4, Folder
Notes, nd. 4, Box 5, Folder
Speeches, 1856. 4, Box 6, Folder
Miscellaneous, 1860. Oversize, Box 1, Folder