Marshall, Humphrey (1812-1872) Papers, 1827-1921

Held by The Filson Historical Society

Creator: Humphrey Marshall, 1812-1872

Title: Papers, 1827-1921.

Rights: For information regarding literary and copyright interest for these papers, contact the Curator of Special Collections.

Size of Collection: 1.33 cubic feet

Location Number: Mss./A/M368

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of correspondence, a journal, a copybook, legal papers, speeches, and miscellaneous items related to Marshall’s political and military career. Correspondence from the antebellum period concerns Marshall’s political career with the Whig Party and the Know Nothings. Included are a variety of materials related to Marshall’s service in the Mexican War, particularly his involvement at the Battle of Buena Vista. A small amount of correspondence from the Civil War discusses Marshall’s service in the Confederate Army and his election to the Confederate Congress. Also included is Marshall’s journal covering his journey to Mexico after the fall of Richmond in April 1865. The collection also includes a copybook from the time Marshall served as United States minister to China. The copied correspondence deals with China’s Taiping Rebellion and American efforts at establishing trade with China and Japan. Other items include legal papers from the antebellum era as well as numerous incomplete speeches from both before and after the Civil War. A substantial amount of correspondence from Marshall’s sons regards negative depictions of Marshall in historical works and is devoted to defending Marshall’s reputation after his death. The collection also contains a 29-page handwritten autobiography by Supreme Court Justice John McLean.

Biographical Note

Humphrey Marshall, the grandson of politician and historian Humphrey Marshall (1760-1841), was a politician, attorney, and Confederate general. Born in 1812 in Frankfort, Marshall graduated from West Point in 1832 and briefly served in the military before resigning his commission to pursue a career in law and politics. Marshall’s military career resumed during the Mexican War, when he served as colonel of the 1 st Kentucky Cavalry, which fought at the Battle of Buena Vista. After the war, as a Whig and later a Know Nothing, Marshall acted as ambassador to China from 1852 to 1854 and then served two terms in the United States House of Representatives from 1855 to 1859. After supporting Kentucky neutrality in 1860 and 1861, Marshall joined the Confederate army and earned a brigadier general’s commission, commanding troops in eastern Kentucky and Tennessee. In the summer of 1863, Marshall resigned his commission and represented Kentucky in the Confederate Congress. When Richmond fell in April 1865, Marshall fled the city with the Confederate government and eventually reached Mexico. After the war, he returned to Louisville, where he practiced law and died on March 28, 1872.

Folder List

Folder 1: Correspondence, 1827-1845

Folder 2: Correspondence, 1846-1849

Folder 3: Correspondence, January-April 1850

Folder 4: Correspondence, May-July 1850

Folder 5: Correspondence, August-December 1850

Folder 6: Correspondence, 1851

Folder 7: Correspondence, 1852

Folder 8: Correspondence, 1853-1855

Folder 9: Correspondence, January-February 1856

Folder 10: Correspondence, March-April 1856

Folder 11: Correspondence, May-December 1856

Folder 12: Correspondence, 1857-1860

Folder 13: Correspondence, 1861-1872

Folder 14: Correspondence, undated

Folder 15: Copybook, 1849-1853

Folder 16: “Humphrey Marshall of Kentucky: Letters and Papers, The China Years, 1852-1854”

Folder 17: Journal, 1865

Folder 18: Miscellaneous China Papers

Folder 19: Military Papers

Folder 20: Legal Papers

Folder 21: Correspondence regarding Nathaniel S. Shaler’s Kentucky: A Pioneer Commonwealth (1884)

Folder 22: Correspondence regarding R. S. Cotterill’s “Humphrey Marshall, II, Eccentric Leader Who Led Picturesque Career During Civil War Period” (1921)

Folder 23: Miscellaneous Correspondence

Folder 24: Papers regarding Justice John McLean

Folder 25: Speech fragments

Folder 26: Revolutionary War Pensions Essay

Folder 27: Newspaper Clippings

Folder 28: Miscellaneous writings

Folder 29: Miscellaneous

Folder 30: Miscellaneous (Oversize)

Folder 31: Newspapers (Oversize)

Subject Headings

American Party

Bingham, Robert Worth, 1871-1937

Birney, James Gillespie, 1792-1857

Breckinridge, John C. (John Cabell), 1821-1875

Brownlow, William Gannaway, 1805-1877

Buchanan, James, 1791-1868

Buckner, Simon Bolivar, 1823-1914

Buena Vista, Battle of, Mexico, 1847

Canals – Kentucky – Louisville

China – Emigration and immigration

China – Foreign Relations – United States

China – History – Taiping Rebellion, 1850-1864

Clay, Cassius Marcellus, 1810-1903

Clay, Henry, 1777-1852

Compromise of 1850

Crittenden, John J. (John Jordan), 1787-1863

Early, Jubal Anderson, 1816-1894

Fillmore, Millard, 1800-1874

Fugitives slaves

Haldeman, Walter Newman, 1821-1902


Jackson, Andrew, 1767-1845

Johnson, Richard M. (Richard Mentor), 1780-1850

Kentucky – Politics and government – 1792-1865


Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865

McLean, John, 1785-1861

Mexican War, 1846-1848


Opium trade – China

Patronage, Political

Perry, Matthew Calbraith, 1794-1858

Prentice, George D. (George Denison), 1802-1870

Scott, Winfield, 1786-1866

Shaler, Nathaniel Southgate, 1841-1906

Shanghai (China) – Maps

Slavery – Kentucky

Slavery – Political aspects


Stephens, Alexander Hamilton, 1812-1883

Taylor, Zachary, 1784-1850

United States – History – Civil War, 1861-1865

United States – Politics and government – 1845-1861

United States. Army – Promotions

United States Military Academy

Utah Expedition, 1857-1858

Webster, Daniel, 1782-1852

Whig Party (U.S.)

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