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Collection Number: 05193

Collection Title: Samuel A. Ashe Papers, 1855-1938

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the FAQ section for more information.


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Size 0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 100 items)
Abstract Samuel A'Court Ashe, Confederate soldier, lawyer, historian, Democratic Party politician, and editor, grew up near Wilmington, N.C, and spent much of his life in Raleigh. He served with the Confederate Army throughout the Civil War, rising to the rank of captain. He wrote about North Carolina history, the Civil War, and the post-war South. The collection consists of correspondence, writings, and printed materials. Most of the letters were sent to Samuel A. Ashe, although a few were sent to or from his father, William Shepperd Ashe. Early correspondence includes a letter to naval historian Alfred Thayer Mahan; Civil War memos; and letters from Samuel A. Ashe, Jr., writing about college life at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C. There are also letters from North Carolina governors, including Thomas M. Holt, Angus W. McLean, and John C. B. Ehringhaus, or from United States senators, including A. S. Merrimon and Furnifold M. Simmons. Some of these letters deal with state and national Democratic Party politics. Other letters to Ashe are from friends, publishers, admirers, and relatives. Many letters include comments on and questions about Ashe's writings, politics, and the Civil War. Noted correspondents include publisher Charles L. Van Noppen, J. I. McRee of the Richmond Dispatch, writer John Battle, and journalist and historian David Rankin Barbee. Both Alex McBee and fellow historian R. D. W. Connor mentioned the political and economic climate during the Great Depression. Writings by Ashe consist of a journal/scrapbook and other writings that deal with childhood memories, details about Civil War battles, and controversies about how the South was represented after the Civil War. There are also Ashe's petition to join the Children of the Confederacy and materials relating monuments at Appomattox, Va. Printed material chiefly relates to Ashe's publications.
Creator Ashe, Samuel A. (Samuel A'Court), 1840-1938.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Samuel A. Ashe Papers #5193, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Purchased from L & T Respess Books of Charlottesville, Va., in September 2004 (Acc. 99889).
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Samuel A'Court Ashe (1840-1938), Confederate soldier, historian, and editor, grew up near Wilmington, N.C., and spent much of his life in Raleigh. His father, William Shepperd Ashe (1814-1862), served in the North Carolina Senate and as a member of the United States Congress. Samuel A. Ashe married Hannah Emerson Willard in 1871 and had nine children, one of whom was William Willard Ashe, who became a noted botanist and worked for the United States Forest Service.

Samuel A. Ashe attended the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, where he met future naval historian and life-long friend Alfred Thayer Mahan. Some of their correspondence was compiled in Letters of Alfred Thayer Mahan to Samuel A'Court Ashe, 1858-1859, edited by Rosa Pendleton Chiles. Ashe served with the Confederate Army throughout the Civil War, rising to the rank of captain. He became a lawyer, served in the North Carolina House of Representatives, worked for several government departments, was active in the Democratic Party, and was an editor for News and Observer of Raleigh and other newspapers.

Throughout his life Ashe wrote about the history of North Carolina and the Civil War. His publications include History of North Carolina, the first volume of which was published in 1908, the second volume in 1925. He also edited the Biographical History of North Carolina, an eight-volume set that was published between 1905 and 1917. In later life, he was concerned with proving the constitutionality of the South's secession from the United States and wrote a pamphlet entitled A Southern View of the Invasion of the Southern States and the War of 1861-1865 in 1935.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

Historian and lawyer Samuel A'Court Ashe's papers consist of correspondence, writings, and printed materials. Most of the letters were sent to Samuel A. Ashe, although a few were sent to or from his father, William Shepperd Ashe. Early correspondence includes a letter to A. T. Mahan; Civil War memos; and letters from Samuel A. Ashe, Jr., writing about college life at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C. There are also letters from North Carolina governors, including Thomas M. Holt, Angus W. McLean, and John C. B. Ehringhaus, or from United States senators, including A. S. Merrimon and Furnifold M. Simmons. Some of these letters deal with state and national Democratic Party politics. Other letters to Ashe are from friends, publishers, admirers, and relatives. Many letters include comments on and questions about Ashe's writings, politics, and the Civil War. Noted correspondents include publisher Charles L. Van Noppen, J. I. McRee of the Richmond Dispatch, writer John Battle, and journalist and historian David Rankin Barbee. Both Alex McBee and fellow historian R. D. W. Connor mentioned the political and economic climate during the Great Depression.

Writings by Ashe consist of memoirs, partial drafts of published writings about the Civil War, and comments on how the Civil War was treated in later years. Included are notes on his daily life, his health, his writings and correspondence, newspaper clippings about himself and the Ashe family, and a few letters from friends. He also wrote about his 95th birthday celebration in 1935, which coincided with the release of A Southern View of the Invasion of the Southern States and the War of 1861-1865. Other writings deal with childhood memories, details about Civil War battles, and controversies about how the South was represented after the Civil War. There are also petitions Ashe made in his youth to join the Children of the Confederacy and materials relating to proposed Grant and Lee monuments at Appomattox, Va.

Printed material consists of booklets and pamphlets advertising or commenting on Ashe's publications.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 5 July 1855-2 January 1937.

About 60 items.

Most of the letters were sent to Samuel A. Ashe. The early letters and family letters are arranged chronologically, while the other folders are arranged alphabetically. For the most part, original folder order and folder titles have been maintained.

Early letters and family letters are addressed either to or from Samuel A. Ashe or his father, William Shepperd Ashe. There are a few letters associated with the Civil War; a letter from Ashe to his friend A. T. Mahan explaining why he dropped out of the Naval Academy and studied law; a letter from Ashe to his wife in 1890 with updates on daily life, their church, and family while she was out of town; and letters home from Samuel A. Ashe, Jr., describing college life, his schedule, and fellow students at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 1889 and 1890.

Letters from North Carolina governors consist of a few letters each from Thomas M. Holt (governor of North Carolina, 1891-1893), Angus W. McLean (governor of North Carolina, 1925-1929), and John C. B. Ehringhaus (governor of North Carolina, 1933-1937). Most of the letters were written while the governors were in office. A letter from Holt describes his concerns about the Democratic Party's need for a good newspaper. McLean tracked Ashe's writings and asked him to write on the state's behalf. Ehringhaus wrote of labor unrest in 1934, praised Ashe's work, and asked for Ashe's help with writing.

Letters from United States senators consist of letters from A. S. (Augustus Summerfield) Merrimon (United States senator from North Carolina, 1873-1879) and Furnifold M. Simmons (United States senator from North Carolina, 1901-1931). Merrimon's letters were written while Ashe was chair of the Democratic Party in North Carolina and concern the politics of the time. Letters from Simmons are dated 1902-1933. Ashe served on his staff for part of that time. A letter from Simmons in 1902 asks for Ashe's help in preparing a speech about the Philippines. In 1927, Simmons wrote about his disappointment in the Democratic Party nominating Al Smith for president and his concerns about the party.

Other letters to Ashe are dated 1893-1936 and usually consist of one letter each from friends, publishers, admirers, and relatives. Many letters include comments on and questions about Ashe's writings, politics, and the Civil War. Some letters concern the histories of North Carolina families, including the Everard, Ashe, Hilton, and McRee families. Noted letter writers include publisher Charles L. Van Noppen, J. I. McRee of the Richmond Dispatch, writer John Battle, and journalist and historian David Rankin Barbee. A letter from Lizzie Redwood Goode in 1930, written in response to one of Ashe's articles, concerns her life as a southern sympathizer working as a clerk in the War Department during the Civil War. Both Alex McBee and fellow historian R. D. W. Connor mention the political and economic climate during the Great Depression.

Folder 1

Early letters and family letters, 5 July 1855-5 December 1930 #05193, Series: "1. Correspondence, 5 July 1855-2 January 1937." Folder 1

Folder 2

Letters from North Carolina governors, 29 September 1879-2 January 1937 #05193, Series: "1. Correspondence, 5 July 1855-2 January 1937." Folder 2

Folder 3

Letters from United States senators, 6 May 1878-16 August 1933 #05193, Series: "1. Correspondence, 5 July 1855-2 January 1937." Folder 3

Folder 4

Other letters, 3 March 1893-12 September 1936 #05193, Series: "1. Correspondence, 5 July 1855-2 January 1937." Folder 4

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Writings, 1878-1938.

About 60 items.

Writings by Ashe consist of memoirs, possible partial drafts of published writings about the Civil War, and comments on how the Civil War was represented in later years. Included is a book in which newspaper clippings, some obituaries of family members, were pasted before 1900. In 1935, after losing a journal, he found this older book and kept a regular journal in it for a year, writing notes on his daily life, his health, his writings and correspondence, and including newspaper clippings about himself and the Ashe family and a few letters from friends. He also wrote about his 95th birthday celebration in 1935, which coincided with the release of his pamphlet, A Southern View of the Invasion of the Southern States and the War of 1861-1865. Other memoirs include memories of his childhood and Civil War battles. Other writings deal with childhood memories, details about Civil War battles, and controversies about how the South was represented after the Civil War. There are also petitions Ashe made in his youth to join the Children of the Confederacy and materials relating to proposed Grant and Lee monuments at Appomattox, Va.

Folder 5

Memoir book, 1890s, 18 July 1935-15 July 1936 #05193, Series: "2. Writings, 1878-1938." Folder 5

Folder 6

Memoir book enclosures #05193, Series: "2. Writings, 1878-1938." Folder 6

Folder 7

Memoirs and related items #05193, Series: "2. Writings, 1878-1938." Folder 7

Folder 8-9

Folder 8

Folder 9

Civil War materials #05193, Series: "2. Writings, 1878-1938." Folder 8-9

Folder 10

Children of the Confederacy #05193, Series: "2. Writings, 1878-1938." Folder 10

Folder 11

Proposed monument #05193, Series: "2. Writings, 1878-1938." Folder 11

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Printed material, 1909-1935.

6 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Printed material consists of booklets and pamphlets advertising or commenting on Ashe's publications, such as his History of North Carolina and A Southern View of the Invasion of the Southern States and the War of 1861-1865.

Folder 12

Printed material #05193, Series: "3. Printed material, 1909-1935." Folder 12

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Processing Information

Processed by: Nathalie Wheaton, January 2005

Encoded by: Nathalie Wheaton, January 2005

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