Item #8036 [Lot of autograph letters, signed, by the leader of Southern sympathizers in Britain to Virginia officials regarding the Stonewall Jackson statue the sympathizers funded.]. A. Beresford Hope.
[Lot of autograph letters, signed, by the leader of Southern sympathizers in Britain to Virginia officials regarding the Stonewall Jackson statue the sympathizers funded.]
[Lot of autograph letters, signed, by the leader of Southern sympathizers in Britain to Virginia officials regarding the Stonewall Jackson statue the sympathizers funded.]

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[Lot of autograph letters, signed, by the leader of Southern sympathizers in Britain to Virginia officials regarding the Stonewall Jackson statue the sympathizers funded.]

London, 6 Mar. 1875–27 Mar. 1876. 7” x 4.5”. 5 letters, 14 pp. In ink. 3 of the letters on letterhead reading, “Arklow House, Connaught Place, W.” CONDITION: Good, light dampstaining, old folds, insect damage to 2 letters along center vertical fold, with losses to a few words.

A rich group of five letters by the leading figure in Great Britain’s support for the South, regarding the erection of the statue of Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson in Capitol Square, Richmond, Virginia. 

During and after the Civil War, A. Beresford Hope (1820–1887) and his followers cast famed rebel General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson as the embodiment of southern independence, courage, and honor—raising him to the status of a hero in Britain. After noticing during the war a tendency among British people to view southerners as heroic warriors in their struggle against the North, Hope embraced and promoted this vision. Immediately following Jackson’s death in 1863, Hope called for a statue of Jackson and led a fundraising drive that was completed quickly by individual subscriptions. As the inscription on its base reads, the statue was “presented by English Gentlemen.” Hope publicly advocated for the rebel cause to the bitter end and deeply regretted the south’s defeat.

Created by the noted English sculptor John Henry Foley, the statue of Jackson in Capitol Square was unveiled after various delays on 26 October 1875 in front of a crowd of some 40,000 people, including many surviving leaders and generals of the Confederacy. The Virginia government appropriated funds for a pedestal and the erection of the statue against the objections of some members of the General Assembly. A controversy arose when it was announced that African American militia companies would participate in the procession. Former rebel General Jubal Early wrote in protest to the governor that their participation would be “an indignity to the memory of Jackson and an insult to all Confederates.” Ultimately, the Black soldiers did not take part in the day’s celebration. Embroiled in controversy, the statue still stands as of May 2023, unlike most other rebel statues in Richmond which have been removed in the past decade. 

Three of Hope’s letters address Virginia Governor James L. Kemper (1823–1895); one letter addresses former Confederate General Bradley Johnson (1829–1903); and the unaddressed fifth letter was apparently sent to Kemper as well. In his first letter, Hope notes that sculptor John Foley’s death in 1874 is “a great loss to art & to his friends,” but he writes that fortunately the statue “has since been cut and is a noble work of art.” He notes that the statue will be exhibited at the Royal Academy before its transfer to the U.S. The second letter refers to an enclosed list (which is no longer present) of the subscribers in England who funded the statue. In his third letter, he states that a 243 pound surplus from donors should go toward a Jackson “prize” at the Lexington Military Academy (now Virginia Military Institute), which it in fact did. In the fourth letter, he decries the lack of coverage of the statue in the newspapers. Finally, in the fifth letter Hope offers congratulations on their mutual effort, and hopes that his addressee, likely Kemper, can visit England so that they can meet in person. Hope would never visit the U.S. himself.


“To Gen. Bradley Johnson [formerly CSA]”; London; 6 Mar. 1875 “My dear Sir, I received your letter with great pleasure & I have in return good news to report. Mr. Foley's death was a great loss to art & to his friends. But he had happily completed the model of the statue, & it has since been cut & is a noble work of art, which Mr. Foley, as he told me when I last saw him, believed that your kind intervention had enabled him to produce a successful likeness. Now as to its destination. On balancing competing claims, I work[?] to a clear[?] c[?] that with the greatest respect for the Association of the Army of Northern Virginia & for the Academy of Lexington, yet that the intention of the English subscribers, to whom the statue is due, could only be satisfactorily fulfilled by offering one gift to the State of Virginia for which General Jackson lived and died.” 

“I have accordingly written to the Governor of Virginia [James Kemper] noting the completion of the statue & asking him whether if we offered the statue to the State he would guarantee its erection in some conspicuous place at Richmond. I imply that this is the only condition appertaining to the gift. As to the date of its transmission the annual exhibition of the Royal Academy opens in May & closes about the beginning of August. It is the right of a Royal Academician to have his works exhibited for the last time at the exhibition immediately succeeding his death. & we think that in justice alike to the subject & to the artist General Jackson's statue ought for once[?] to be known to the British public before it leaves the old world forever, so that condition would rule the period of its transmission. I reciprocate your congratulations on the happy conservative reaction in both our countries. With the expansion of yr late Congress the immediate dozen with you is, I trust, [?] & I suppose the attempted [?] wh. abstracted[?] the last day of radical supremacy will only disgust & alienate all respectable people.”

“To His Excellency the Governor of Virginia,” James Kemper; London; 27 June 1875 “My dear Sir, I have the pleasure of enclosing to you a list of the subscribers to the Jackson Statue [no longer present]. I fear that it is not so complete as I would have wished it. I have as far as my knowledge carries me affixed to each name any augmentations or changes of designation or further indication, by which the donor ought now to—& also (so far as my knowledge goes) marked who has since died. Any further information which comes to hand shall be forwarded. A. Beresford Hope. [PS] You will appreciate my reason for not adding the sums which each donor gave. I am [?] which gave cheerfully according to his ability.” 

To Kemper; London; 2 Feb. 1876 “Sir, I have the power to acquaint you that—thanks to the munificence of the Commonwealth of Virginia in having undertaken [?] the expenses of pedestal transition connected with the Jackson Memorial Statue. The Committee for carrying it out find themselves in possession of a balance of 243.15.10 [pounds] which they desire to place in the hands of the Commonwealth to be devoted to [the] further memorial of your honor[able] [illus?]trious countryman. I have therefore to request your kind instructions as to the transmission of the above [?] through what channel it is to be sent & to whose name it is to be paid. We leave the selection of its destination to the wisdom of yourself and of those whom you may call into counsel. If however no other and better object occurs to you, we venture to suggest the foundation of a Jackson Prize at the Lexington Military Academy.”

To Kemper. “Private”; London “My dear Sir, I hope that you will kindly forgive me, though I have been dilatory in answering your last v[er]y kind & interesting communication & in thanking you for your response. The Latin distitch is very good. Your reference to the statue is most happily, thoroughly satisfying to those who have been interested in the work sufficient [&] not too much a stretch in thought[?]. [?] I am very glad to say that the [?] artwork was a [?] failure — repudiated or ignored by all the other papers. & not followed up by the [New York] Times itself, as it would have perhaps been the paper seen what a mistake it had committed. Your reference to the centennial was news to me [?] as very judicious under the circumstances. You have as you desire to address Northern orders & must take your time accordingly. I beg to accompany this with a formal letter making the tender[?] of the remainder of the subscription for now another memorial of of General Jackson.”

To an unaddressed recipient (but likely James Kemper). London; 27 Mar. 1876. “My dear Sir, I cannot write[?] this without adding my personal expression of fortune[?] at so happy a conclusion[?] of our long work. … May I add in conclusion how much pleasure it would give me …to take a holiday to [?] you personally in England.”

An important lot relating to an artifact of British pro-Confederate ideology. 

REFERENCES: Cleland, Beau. “Cleland on Turner, 'Stonewall Jackson, Beresford Hope, and the Meaning of the American Civil War in Britain'” at Humanities and Social Sciences online; “Monument to Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson in Capitol Square” at Encyclopedia Virginia online.

Item #8036


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