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Collection Number: 01416

Collection Title: R. L. Caruthers Papers, 1823-1870

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 section for more information.


This collection was processed with support from the Randleigh Foundation Trust.

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Size 2.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 1600 items)
Abstract Robert Looney Caruthers was a Lebanon, Tenn., lawyer, state legislator, Whig politician, founder and professor of law at Cumberland University, United States Representative, 1841-1843, state supreme court justice, and Confederate governor of Tennessee. The collection pertains to only a part of Caruthers's political career and consists in bulk of letters received, 1840-1849, and lesser amounts, 1823-1839 and 1866-1870. There are no papers from 1854 to August 1865. The papers chiefly concern Caruthers's law practice, state and national politics, Cumberland University of Lebanon, Tenn., before and after the Civil War and, after the war, plantation management. Correspondents include Andrew Jackson Donelson, Ephraim Hubbard Foster, Nathan Green, Alexander Peter Steward, and Felix K. Zollicoffer.
Creator Caruthers, R. L. (Robert Looney), 1800-1882.
Language English
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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

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 R. L. Caruthers Papers #1416, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Mary Moore Martin of Lebanon, Tenn., in October 1947.
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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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subject Headings

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

Robert Looney Caruthers was born in Smith County, Tenn., on 31 July 1800. He was engaged in mercantile pursuits from 1817-1819, then attended Woodward's Academy near Columbia, Tenn., and Greenville College, 1820-1821. He studied law in the office of Judge Samuel Powell at Greenville and was admitted to the bar in 1823. In 1824, Caruthers was clerk of the State House of Representatives, then clerk of the chancery court of Smith County, and editor of the Tennessee Republican. He moved to Lebanon, Wilson County, Tenn., in 1826; was State's attorney, 1827-1832; and was made Brigadier-General of the Tennessee militia in 1834. In 1835, Caruthers was elected to the State House of Representatives and, in 1841, was elected as a Whig to the Twenty-seventh Congress (4 March 1841-3 March 1843). He was the founder of Cumberland University, Lebanon, Tenn., in 1842 and of its Law Department in 1847.

Caruthers served as presidential elector on the Whig ticket of Clay and Frelinghuysen in 1844; was appointed judge of the Supreme Court of Tennessee in 1852 to fill a vacancy; and then elected to the position in 1854, which he held until the beginning of the Civil War. He was a member of the Peace Congress of 1861 held in Washington, D.C. He was elected Governor of Tennessee in 1862, but never served because of the occupation of the state by federal forces.

At the close of the Civil War, Caruthers became dean of the Law Department at Cumberland University, in which capacity he served until his death. He was also the first president of the board of trustees of Cumberland University. Caruthers was at one time "Worthy Patriarch" of the Sons of Temperance for Tennessee and was also a ruling elder in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He died in Lebanon, 2 October 1882, and was buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery.

For further information see Biographical Dictionary of the American Congress.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection pertains to only a part of lawyer, politican, and law professor R. L. Caruthers's political career and consists in bulk of letters received, 1840-1849, and lesser amounts, 1823-1839 and 1866-1870. There are no papers from 1854 to August 1865. The papers chiefly concern Caruthers's law practice, state and national politics, Cumberland University of Lebanon, Tenn., before and after the Civil War and, after the war, plantation management. Correspondents include Andrew Jackson Donelson, Ephraim Hubbard Foster, Nathan Green, Alexander Peter Steward, and Felix K. Zollicoffer.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Papers, 1823-1870.

About 1600 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Letters to Caruthers from numerous prominent Tennesseans, as well as from relatives and private citizens seeking advice about legal problems. Topics include Whig politics, national and local issues, Cumberland University, and post-Civil War agricultural operations. There are only two letters written by Caruthers in the papers. His custom was to note on the back of letters received the date on which he answered and write a brief summary of the reply given. Correspondents include Andrew Jackson Donelson, Ephraim Hubbard Foster, Nathan Green, Alexander Peter Steward, and Felix K. Zollicoffer. There is also a photocopy of a letter from Millard Fillmore, 1850 (original may be viewed with staff assistance).

Folder 1

1823-1824 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 1

Folder 2

1825-1826 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 2

Folder 3

1827-1829 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 3

Folder 4-5

Folder 4

Folder 5

1831 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 4-5

Folder 6

1832 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 6

Folder 7

1833 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 7

Folder 8

1834 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 8

Folder 9

1835 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 9

Folder 10-11

Folder 10

Folder 11

1836 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 10-11

Folder 12-14

Folder 12

Folder 13

Folder 14

1837 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 12-14

Folder 15

1838-1839 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 15

Folder 16

1840 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 16

Folder 17-18

Folder 17

Folder 18

1841 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 17-18

Folder 19-23

Folder 19

Folder 20

Folder 21

Folder 22

Folder 23

1842 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 19-23

Folder 24-26

Folder 24

Folder 25

Folder 26

1843 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 24-26

Folder 27

1844-July 1845 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 27

Folder 28

August-December 1845 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 28

Folder 29

1846-February 1847 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 29

Folder 30-32

Folder 30

Folder 31

Folder 32

March-December 1847 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 30-32

Folder 33-36

Folder 33

Folder 34

Folder 35

Folder 36

1848 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 33-36

Folder 37-38

Folder 37

Folder 38

1849 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 37-38

Folder 39-41

Folder 39

Folder 40

Folder 41

1850 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 39-41

SEP-1416/1

Letter, President Millard Fillmore to Robert Looney Caruthers, 20 August 1850 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." SEP-1416/1

Restriction to Access: The original item is not available for immediate or same day access. Please contact staff at wilsonlibrary@unc.edu to discuss options.

Folder 42-43

Folder 42

Folder 43

1851 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 42-43

Folder 44-46

Folder 44

Folder 45

Folder 46

1852 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 44-46

Folder 47

1853 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 47

Folder 48

1865-March 1866 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 48

Folder 49-50

Folder 49

Folder 50

April-December 1866 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 49-50

Folder 51

1867 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 51

Folder 52-53

Folder 52

Folder 53

1870 #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 52-53

Folder 54

Undated #01416, Series: "Papers, 1823-1870." Folder 54

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

Separated folder (SEP-1416/1)

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Processing Information

Processed by: Suzanne Ruffing, July 1996

Encoded by: Lynn Holdzkom, February 2006

This collection was processed with support from the Randleigh Foundation Trust.

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