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Gibson, Randall Lee (1832-1892) Archive of Confederate general & family, primarily pre- and post-war re: plantation, slaves, military maneuvers, reconstruction. [decimalized]

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04501 Author/Creator: Gibson, Randall Lee (1832-1892) Place Written: [various places] Type: Header Record Date: 1836-1871 Pagination: 106 items (#1-105; item .025 contains a separate incomplete letter labeled .025B)

Summary of Content: Randall Lee Gibson and Family archive, divided into two sections: Randall Lee Gibson correspondence (.001-.039 and .025B) and Gibson family correspondence (.040-.105). The collection contains letters, military documents, financial documents (including bills of slave sales) and a carte de visite. The collection shows some child-rearing and education practices in southern Louisiana in the ante-bellum South. Other Gibson materials in the Gilder Lehrman Collection include GLC0026 (ALS to Col. T. O'Hara, 1/11/1863), GLC00821 (ALS to John C. Breckinridge, 9/26/1863), GLC01810 (ALS to James Seddon, 3/1/1863), GLC03505 (ALS to Grover Cleveland, 2/2/1887) and GLC05253 (tintype portrait in uniform, ca. 1862).

Background Information: The Randall Lee Gibson correspondence includes 3 antebellum, 32 war-date and 4 post-war letters. In addition to plantation-related discussions and family news, content ranges from Randall Gibson’s student days at Yale, his ...organization of a regiment at the outset of the Civil War, descriptions (and criticisms) of various Confederate generals, as well as of Ulysses S. Grant, analyses of troop movements and military strategy, discussion of slaves, and mentions of important Civil War figures and events. Of particular note are Gibson’s description of an 1861 prisoner exchange between Grant and General Benjamin F. Cheatham (.013), his vivid recounting of the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky (.018), and his belief during the Atlanta campaign that Sherman would be defeated (.022-.028). In an 1864 letter to his father (.032), Gibson attests to his "simple & abiding faith" that their cause will prevail. The collection shows some child-rearing and education practices in southern Louisiana in the ante-bellum South.

The family correspondence contains 52 antebellum, 5 war-date, 3 post-war, and 5 undated letters. Slavery and political turmoil are prominent subjects in the pre-war letters. There are 2 slave sale receipts (.043, .073) and a reference to the conviction of a family tutor (abolitionist Delia Ann Webster) for helping slaves to escape (.076). Writing two days after South Carolina announced secession, William P. Gibson hopes for Louisiana's secession (.092). The strain of coping with freed blacks, federal occupation and reconstruction government is evident in the war-date and post-war letters. Tobias Gibson bitterly complains about educating freed slaves (.095), grumbles over "intolerable" workers and discusses the recruitment of colored soldiers from the plantation. He refused to serve as a Commissioner of Elections in 1867, because of his belief that black suffrage is a violation of the Constitution (.099).

Randall Lee Gibson was a plantation owner, lawyer, Confederate general, U.S. Congressman and Senator, and a founder of Tulane University. Gibson was educated by a private tutor at ‘Live Oak,’ his father’s plantation in Terrebonne Parish, La.; graduated from Yale College in 1853 and from the law department of the University of Louisiana (later Tulane University), New Orleans, La., in 1855; traveled in Europe for several years; engaged in planting until the outbreak of the Civil War; enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861 and served until 1864. He fought at Shiloh, in the Kentucky Campaign, at Chickamauga, in the Atlanta Campaign and the Franklin-Nashville Campaign, and was then assigned to the defense of Mobile. He was promoted to brigadier general in January 1864). After the war was admitted to the bar and practiced in New Orleans, La.; resumed agricultural pursuits; served as administrator of the Howard Memorial Library, trustee of the Peabody Fund, Regent of the Smithsonian Institution, and as president of the board of administrators of Tulane University, New Orleans, La.; unsuccessful candidate for election in 1872 to the Forty-third Congress; elected as a Democrat to the Forty-fourth and to the three succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1875-March 3, 1883); elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 1882; reelected in 1889 and served from March 4, 1883, until his death. [preceding text adapted from Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress ]. Randall’s father, Tobias Gibson (1800-1872) owned four estates: Greenwood, Magnolia, Hollywood, and Live Oak. He resided primarily in Lexington, Kentucky, but was one of the wealthiest cotton and sugar planters of the Mississippi Valley. Ironically, Gibson and his father Tobias, both segregationists, are believed to have been of mixed race ancestry.
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People: Gibson, Randall Lee, 1832-1892

Historical Era: National Expansion and Reform, 1815-1860

Subjects: Confederate General or LeaderConfederate States of AmericaCivil WarMilitary HistoryAfrican American HistorySlaverySoldier's LetterConfederate Soldier's LetterBattleUnion Forces

Sub Era: Age of Jackson

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