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Annual report of the Executive Committee of the Southern Historical Society, for the year ending October 31st, 1882.

[Adopted at a full meeting of the committee, held at the office of the Society, No. 7, State Capitol, Richmond, Va., Friday afternoon, November 3rd, 1882.]

In presenting to the Society our Eighth Report, your committee have reason to offer cordial congratulations on what has been accomplished in the past, and on the hopeful outlook for the future of which we have to tell.

A year ago the Society was so burdened with an old debt, which [521] had lapped over from 1877, and which had become very pressing, that it seemed a very serious question whether we could continue our work without risking the loss of out archives. Now we have the pleasure of reporting that we have not only been able to continue the regular issue of our Papers, and make our current receipts meet expenses, but that the generous aid of interested friends, and the sale of back volumes, has enabled us to liquidate nearly the whole of the old debt, and to make arrangements by which we confidently expect to be able to report on the first of next month, that we have not only paid the last dollar of our indebtedness, but have in our treasury the nucleus of a permanent endowment fund.

We have not lost sight of the fact that a main object of our Society has been the

Collecting of material for the future historian,

and we have steadily prosecuted that object. Our notices from time to time in our Papers, and reports, and other Mss. which we have published have shown the great value of many accessions to our material which we have had. We do not hesitate to declare that our collection is now one of the fullest, and most valuable in existence, and that in certain important directions our material is absolutely indispensable to any true history of the great “War between the States.” This is coming to be appreciated more and more every year by historians both in this country, and in Europe, and we are constantly giving most valuable help to seekers after the truth of history. Major Mangold, of the Prussian army, published in German last year a history of the second Mannassas campaign which an accomplished Confederate soldier pronounces “one of the ablest, fairest, and most accurate books” he has ever seen. A distinguished Federal soldier writing to the Secretary about this book says that “Major Mangold had evidently had access to ample Confederate material,” and desires to know where the reports, etc., which he quotes can be found. The simple reply was: “Major Mangold has been for several years in correspondence with our office and we have furnished him, as we are most happy to furnish any seeker after truth, all of the material which he needed.”

But we have reason to know that there yet remains in the hands of individuals all through the country, most valuable material, and we appeal to them (and we beg our friends to appeal to them) to send to our office (as a loan if they are not willing to donate it) anything and everything which can shed the slightest light on our grand history.



Our monthly (Southern Historical Society Papers) has been regularly issued, and we are now completing volume X, which will be ready for binding early in December.

We have been able to place these volumes in a large number of the great Libraries at the North, and find an increasing demand for them among army officers and others who take interest in historic matters. We believe that we now have the Magazine on a safe basis — that our receipts from it each year will meet the expense of publication — and it is certain that we do not mean to go in debt again, but will, if need be, suspend the publication whenever it ceases to pay expenses.

And yet there are thousands of Confederates--many of them gallant and distinguished soldiers — all over the South who praise our work, but fail to send us the $3 per annum necessary to sustain it. We beg our friends everywhere to help us increase our circulation in order that we may lessen the subscription price of our Papers, while we improve their character and value.

Permanent endowment.

In the judgment of your committee the time has come when we should make a vigorous effort to secure a permanent endownment which shall be safely invested, and only the interest on which shall be expended. We do not argue here the necessity of this as we are sure that it commends itself to all who have given the subject a moment's consideration.

To purchase books, documents, and manuscripts — to employ necessary clerical force to put in shape the vast material we have collected, and conduct properly the large correspondence of the office — to provide for the security of our archives and make them more accessible to those who desire to consult them — to provide more efficient means for collecting material now scattered all through the land — to be somewhat independent of the fluctuations of annual subscriptions and receipts — in a word, to put our Society on a footing somewhat akin to the great historical societies of the country, and to enable it to do efficiently its noble work — we must have a permanent endowment.

Your committee have keenly felt this all along; but neither the circumstances of our people, nor the condition of the Society seemed to justify any very decided effort in that direction. Now, however, when fruitful seasons, plenteous harvests and returning prosperity have come to bless our Southern land, we feel that the time has come when [523] we may, with confidence, appeal to our friends to help us place our grand enterprise on a basis of permanency, so that our children may have the means of vindicating the truth of history after the actors in the great struggle shall have passed away.

We really do not know how better some one of large means could invest money for coming years and hand his name down to posterity as a public benefactor than by linking it with this effort to preserve the history of our people. We know of no better investment for even a small amount.

We recommend that Judge George L. Christian be elected Treasurer and Manager of the “Endowment fund” of the Society.


We are glad to be able to report that we have been able to fully redeem the assurance made in 1879, that we had “made an arrangement by which in future the Papers will be published without risk of indebtedness to the Society.” We only regret that (from various causes which we could neither foresee nor avert) our receipts fell off during 1880 and 1881, so that we could not meet our expectation of paying our old debt from surplus receipts.

The liberality of the Army and Navy Society of the Confederate States, in Maryland, who voted us in January last a contribution from their treasury of $100--of individual friends who made us timely donations, and especially of our friends in New Orleans, who got up for us the grand meeting (of which we have published full accounts and made full acknowledgment)--has enabled us to pay $1,694.50 on account of the old debt, to reprint six or seven missing numbers of our Papers, (so that we now have a larger number of full sets than ever before), to meet current expenses, and to arrange for the early and vigorous prosecution of the scheme for the permanent endowment of the Society.

We have received from all sources during the year ending October 31st, 1882, the sum of $4,627.40. Of this amount we have paid $1,694.50 on account of old debts, $250 for reprinting missing numbers, $120.50 for extra postal cards, binding, and postage in connection with the sale of back volumes, and $2,562.40 for printing, binding, commissions to agents, salary of the Secretary, postage, stationery, telegrams, expressage, office expenses, and other current expenses, the details of which are shown on our books and sustained by proper vouchers submitted to our auditing committee.

We may add that we are conducting our business on the most economic [524] basis, and that for the past three years we have employed no clerk.

In conclusion

We would express again our increasing sense of the importance of the work in which we are engaged — our abiding conviction that the present is the golden period for successful effort — and our earnest hope that we may have the warm sympathies, the active co-operation, the liberal help of all who desire to see the truth of history vindicated, the name and fame of our Confederate people defended, and the heroic deeds of “the men who wore the gray” handed down to our children, and perpetuated by the future historian.

By order of the Executive Committee.

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