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Collection Number: 03871

Collection Title: A. W. Venable Papers, 1847-1872

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Size 1.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 90 items)
Abstract Abraham Watkins Venable (1799-1876), the son of Mary S. Carrington and Samuel Woodson Venable, was born in Prince Edward County, Va.; educated at Hampden Sydney and Princeton; became a lawyer; and in 1824 married Isabella Alston Brown of Granville County, N.C. Venable moved to North Carolina in 1829 and became active in politics as a Democrat, serving as a presidential elector in 1832 and 1836 and in the United States House of Representatives, March 1847-March 1853, representing the fifth congressional district of North Carolina. After congressional redistricting in 1852, Granville County was in the new fourth district, which he failed to win. Venable was a presidential elector on the Breckinridge-Lane ticket in 1860; a delegate from North Carolina to the Provisional Confederate Congress; and a member of the Confederate House of Representatives, 1862-1864. He died in Oxford, N.C., on 24 February 1876. The collection consists chiefly of letters written to Venable, primarily from his constituents, either commenting on politics and campaigns or seeking office. In 1847 and 1848, some of the letters deal with efforts to obtain appointments in the United States Army. Ten of the letters were written by William Woods Holden, editor of the Raleigh Standard and a leader in the Democratic Party. Also included is an account book belonging to Venable documenting the Brownsville plantation in Granville County, 1864-1872. Entries include contractual agreements, wages, and amounts deducted for staples for freedmen who worked for him (first and last names are listed). Also included are records of wheat and corn crops during this time, with a few memos, promissory notes, and receipts interleaved.
Creator Venable, A. W. (Abraham Watkins), 1799-1876.
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 A. W. Papers #3871, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Microfilm copy available.
  • Reel 1: Folders 1-6
Acquisitions Information
Gift of S. Taylor Marton of Clinton, S.C., January 1969; purchase from Franklin Gilliam Rare Books, December 2006 (Acc. 100562).
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

Abraham Watkins Venable (1799-1876), the son of Mary S. Carrington and Samuel Woodson Venable, was born at "Springfield," Prince Edward County, Va.; educated at Hampden Sydney and Princeton; became a lawyer; and in 1824 married Isabella Alston Brown, daughter of Dr. Thomas Brown, physician of "Brownsville" in Granville County, N.C. Venable moved to North Carolina in 1829 and became active in politics as a Democrat, serving as a presidential elector in 1832 and 1836 and in the United States House of Representatives, March 1847 to March 1853, representing the fifth congressional district of North Carolina (Granville, Person, Caswell, Orange, and Chatham counties). After congressional redistricting in 1852, Venable's home county, Granville, was in the new fourth district, the other counties being Wake, Franklin, Warren, Orange, and Johnston. Venable announced himself a candidate for re-election prior to the meeting of the Democratic Party convention of the district. When the convention did not endorse him but nominated instead A. M. Lewis, he ran anyway, producing a three-cornered race won by the Whig, Sion H. Rogers. In 1855, Venable's name was again presented to the convention, but for a second time the convention nominated another, G. W. Thompson, who declined to run. Lawrence O'Bryan Branch was then nominated, Venable did not run, and Branch won. Venable was a presidential elector on the Breckinridge-Lane ticket in 1860; a delegate from North Carolina to the Provisional Confederate Congress; and a member of the Confederate House of Representatives, 1862-1864. He died in Oxford, N.C., on 24 February 1876.

The Biographical Directory of the American Congress has a brief sketch of Venable's life, and he and his family are discused in Alice Read Rouse's The Reads and their Relatives (1930).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection consists chiefly of letters written to lawyer and United States congressman A. W. Venable, primarily from his constituents, either commenting on politics and campaigns or seeking office. In 1847 and 1848, some of the letters deal with efforts to obtain appointments in the United States Army. Ten of the letters were written by William Woods Holden, editor of the Raleigh, N.C., Standard and a leader in the North Carolina Democratic Party. Also included is an account book belonging to Venable documenting the Brownsville plantation in Granville County, N.C., 1864-1872. Entries include contractual agreements, wages, and amounts deducted for staples for freedmen who worked for him (first and last names are listed). Also included are records of wheat and corn crops during this time, with a few memos, promissory notes, and receipts interleaved.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Correspondence, 1847-1855.

About 85 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Folder 1

Fourteen letters, 17 December 1847-29 February 1848: #03871, Series: "Correspondence, 1847-1855." Folder 1

17 December 1847 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 1

Abram Nathaniel Womack, son of Venable's sister Mary and her husband William M. Womack, from Buna Vista, Mexico, explaining that he had been with the army a year as a sergeant in Company C, Virginia Regiment, wanted an appointment in the regular army.

18 December 1847 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 1

John S. Eaton, Henderson, commenting on politics, very critical of Calhoun, high praise for Polk and Robert J. Walker.

25 December 1847 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 1

James H. R. Taylor, former captain in the 1st Regiment, Mississippi Rifles, recommending T. O. McClanahan for a position in the army. To this is appended a brief note by Jefferson Davis.

4 January 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 1

W. S. McClanahan, Oxford, commenting on politics, critical of Whigs, hoping Venable can help his son, T. O.

18 January 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 1

Nathaniel J. Palmer about the mail schedule from Danville to Milton.

22 January 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 1

W. H. Bayne, editor of the Fayetteville Carolinian, wanting to know if a new mission to Rome is to be created, as an unnamed Democrat wants it. For some reason a number of Democrats of Fayetteville and Wilmington turned to Venable for help despite the fact that their representative, James I. McKay, was a Democrat with longer service than Venable.

24 January 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 1

G. A. Schwarzman, Fayetteville, wanting a commission in the army; R. B. Gilliam, Oxford, recommending J. Winslow of Fayetteville for military appointment.

25 January 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 1

J. W. Lancaster, Goldsboro, asking Venable to get a promotion of Lieutenant George P. Andrews, 3rd Artillery, West Point graduate from Goldsboro; Venable to the Raleigh Register, copy, correcting a reference the newspaper made to him.

26 January 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 1

J. Allison, Hillsborough, sending a petition from Julia Davis, who asked for the discharge of her husband, who had gone to Mexico with the army, leaving her and two children at home without support.

1 February 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 1

J. Jackson, Pittsboro, asking for aid for Dr. Windship Stedman, who wanted appointment as army surgeon.

10 February 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 1

Samuel S. Cooper asking Venable to subscribe to the Washington Union for him.

19 February 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 1

Frederick Nash, North Carolina Supreme Court justice, about a Mr. Busbee who had resigned as a purser in the navy, anxious to know the state of his accounts because a Mrs. Taylor of Raleigh had signed his bond, family news (they were distant relatives); William A. Graham, printed letter signed, sending Venable resolution ofthe General Assembly asking that United States government improve inlets to North Carolina ports.

24 February 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 1

Barzillai Graves commenting on politics.

29 February 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 1

David N. Currie, medical student in Philadelphia, planning to visit Washington and Venable on his way home to Caswell County.

Folder 2

Eight letters, 2 March 1848-26 March 1848: #03871, Series: "Correspondence, 1847-1855." Folder 2

2 March 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 2

Barzillai Graves commenting on politics, death of Supreme Court Justice Joseph J. Daniel and his possible successor to be appointed by "Billy Graham and his counsellor-would be Governor Doct Roan" (probably Nathanial Roane of Caswell County).

9 March 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 2

N. J. Palmer, former post master at Milton, saying he has just been replaced by his former deputy, a man named Owen; several letters about the Palmer-Owen episode, from C. N. B. Evans, Graves, Venable to Evans and to Palmer (copies), W. L. Brown, assistant postmaster general, and N. M. Lewis.

12 March 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 2

William Woods Holden commenting on politics, especially the gubernatorial election and possible candidates.

20 March 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 2

William P. Graves, Saltillo, Mexico, asking aid for William High for a military appointment in opposition to Rush J. Mitchell, a "violent Federalist," comment on Robert Treat Paine and the North Carolina Regiment.

21 March 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 2

Colonel Joseph G. Totten, Engineer Department, United States Army, sending an appointment to West Point for George B. Anderson.

22 March 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 2

Totten explaining that anyone to whom Venable gives a service academy appointment must be a resident of his district (Anderson's home was in Wilmington, but he entered West Point that fall).

23 March 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 2

Robert J. Walker replying to an inquiry of Venable about the amount of custom duties collected in the fiscal year 1847-1848.

26 March 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 2

W. E. Anderson, Wilmington, thanking Venable for aiding George, who had come home to get prepared to leave.

Folder 3

Seven letters, 10 April 1848-28 December 1848: #03871, Series: "Correspondence, 1847-1855." Folder 3

10 April 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 3

James M. Wiggins commenting on local politics, the gratitude of Rush J. Mitchell for his appointment.

10 August 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 3

B. Graves about the results of gubernatorial election not yet determined, account of a Whig-Democrat debate, Calvin Graves and John Kerr among the participants.

29 May 1849 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 3

Pages 1 and 2 of Montgomery Alabama Journal, containing comment on Congressman Henry W. Hilliard, with letter of Venable about the vote of Hilliard on John M. Berrien's substitute for Calhoun's Southern Address, proposed in a meeting of southern members of Congress.

16 September 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 3

H. M. Spencer accepting Venable's explanation of some difference between them and regretting his letter to Venable.

17 September 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 3

W. F. Leak, Rockingham, about a proposition to hold a pro-southern convention in North Carolina representing both parties.

17 October 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 3

Calvin H. Wiley wanting Venable's aid in securing an appointment as charge d'affaires in Turin, denying charge of abolitionism made against him by a Virginia newspaper because of something he wrote in Roanoke.

28 December 1848 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 3

Business paper, bill of Venable to Corcoran and Riggs, and record of payment.

Folder 4

Eight letters, 8 April 1850-29 December 1851: #03871, Series: "Correspondence, 1847-1855." Folder 4

8 April 1850 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 4

Copies from Charleston Mercury about Governor Whitemarsh B. Seabrook's appointment of James Hamilton Jr. to the United States Senate to succeed Calhoun and Hamilton's resignation of the position when his place of residence was questioned.

21 April 1850 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 4

Copy of letter from Venable to Hamilton telling of complimentary remarks about Hamilton made by Calhoun.

15 August 1850 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 4

Pamphlet containing a speech of Venable on the Texas and New Mexico question, made in House of Representatives (transferred to the North Carolina Collection).

19 December 1850 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 4

John F. Hoke, North Carolina Senate, Raleigh, discussing speeches there about the question of slavery in the territory acquired from Mexico and wanting an army appointment if a new regiment is to be raised.

16 April 1851 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 4

W. W. Holden saying that he could not endorse one Democrat over another editorially, but thought Venable deserved re-election, feared J. R. J. Daniel would be opposed and defeated, said Reid was very successful as governor.

21 April 1851 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 4

Abraham Rencher advising Venable to come to Pittsboro in May during the Chatham County court.

24 December 1851 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 4

Letter from Holden on politics, the slavery question, etc.

29 December 1851 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 4

Holden commenting on Kossuth and the presidential nomination.

Folder 5

Fifteen letters, 13 January 1852-31 December 1852: #03871, Series: "Correspondence, 1847-1855." Folder 5

13 January 1852 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 5

Holden commenting on the presidential nomination and politics in the state.

28 January 1852 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 5

Mary Clay (Smith) Breckinridge acknowledging a copy of a speech sent her by Venable, commenting on her son, John C. Breckinridge.

7 February 1852 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 5

Holden commenting on politics.

19 March 1852 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 5

David J. McCord thanking Venable for copy of a speech, mentioning writing for the Southern Review, the loss of Venable's library (not mentioned elsewhere in the papers), commenting on President Fillmore.

26 March 1852 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 5

Holden commenting on the approaching political campaign in the state.

1 April 1852 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 5

C. J. Ingersoll asking for information about Johnston Blakely for his history of the War of 1812.

16 May 1852 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 5

Holden commenting on the state Democratic convention.

1 June 1852 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 5

R. Buchanan, Cincinnati, sending his "grape treatise" and asking for information on grapes in North Carolina.

3 July 1852 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 5

Venable asked to supply a copy of his address on Clay to be printed with others.

8 July 1852 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 5

Holden thanking Venable for letter of sympathy, commenting on politics and plans for the campaign.

11 August 1852 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 5

Holden reporting on elections, speculating on makeup of the new General Assembly.

3 September 1852 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 5

Letter about Venable's subscription to the Fayetteville Observer.

21 September 1852 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 5

Lewis D. Burwell, Rome, Ga., asking for a recommendation by Venable of Dr. James W. Hicks, son of Dr. John R. Hicks of Granville County, N.C., who wished to marry a young lady of Floyd County, Ga., commenting on politics in Georgia.

25 September 1852 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 5

Venable to his brother, Samuel Woodson Venable Jr. about some business between them (copy).

31 December 1852 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 5

Rich Brothers, London, about a bound set of the Lancet, a medical periodical desired by Venable.

Folder 6

Various letters, 26 May 1853-28 April 1855: #03871, Series: "Correspondence, 1847-1855." Folder 6

26 May 1853 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 6

Goodhue, New York, forwarding books (the Lancet) from Rich Brothers.

13 June 1853 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 6

Albert Greenleaf, Washington, commenting on the Washington Union, its publisher, Robert Armstrong, the persons who wrote for it, and politics.

26 June 1853 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 6

T. Barry thinking it essential for Venable to canvass Orange County.

26 July 1853 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 6

J. Robert Jeffreys saying A. M. Lewis was a Whig in 1843-1844.

August 1853 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 6

A. G. Thornton explaining a remark he made about Venable that was quoted in the Standard.

8 August 1853 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 6

John Berry commenting on the choice of Lewis over Venable by the Democratic district convention, criticizing Holden, whom he calls "the dictator."

30 August 1853 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 6

J. C. Dobbin to Venable about patronage, especially postal appointments and the attitude of the post office department during Venable's campaign.

15 September 1853 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 6

Exchange of letters between Lewis and Venable about a newspaper statement.

23 September 1853 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 6

T. A. Woodward, Winnsboro, S.C., asking Venable to give him a statement on a conversation Venable held with James K. Polk during which Polk showed him the minutes of a pre-Revolutionary meeting in Mecklenburg County (prior to the "Declaration") with Thomas Woodward, a member of the committee; Woodward wished the information for a biography of Thomas Woodward and had been unable to get it from Mrs. Polk or Polk's nephew; commenting on politics in North Carolina and Venable's defeat.

26 October 1853 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 6

Edward Cantwell about his plans to publish a paper, the Statesman, in opposition to the Standard, trying to get subscribers, Venable's plans to visit Wilmington, inviteing him to stay in his home.

10 May 1854 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 6

Hugh Waddell, Pittsboro, about death of an unnamed friend or relative, plans for coal mine leases in association with Charles Manly, Dr. Johnston B. Jones, Venable, and Venable's son Thomas B. Venable.

19 April 1855 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 6

N. E. Cannaday, Franklinton, about how the district convention had just nominated G. W. Thompson of Wake County as Democratic candidate for Congress; Cannaday said he thought Venable would accept this decision and not run.

20-28 April 1855 #03871, Series Correspondence, 1847-1855., Folder 6

O. L. Burch, Raleigh, Henry Kollock Nash, Hillsborough, and Lucien Napoleon Bonaparte, Battle, Nash County, all urging Venable to run as an independent Democrat against Thompson, some of them commenting on on Holden's enmity to Venable and the domination of the convention by the "Raleigh clique."

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Addition of November 2006, 1864-1872.

1 item.

Plantation account book belonging to A. W. Venable, owner of "Brownsville," in Granville County, N.C. Contains entries, 1864-1872, documenting contractual agreements, wages and amounts deducted from wages for staples for the freedmenn who worked for him (first and last names are listed). Also includes some records of wheat and corn crops during this time. Memos, promissory notes, and receipts have been interleaved. About half of the pages in the book are blank.

Folder 7

Plantation account book #03871, Series: "Addition of November 2006, 1864-1872." Folder 7

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Processing Information

Processed by: Manuscripts Department Staff and Margaret Dickson, February 1969 and July 2007

Encoded by: Margaret Dickson, July 2007

Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, February 2010

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