The Southern Historical Society: its origin and history.A wish has been expressed to the Secretary of the Southern Historical Society (the editor of its publication) that some account should be given of the origin and existence of the Society. Major-General Dabney H. Maury, in a letter dated November 3. 1890, writes:
I feel a natural desire to record the history of the inception of the Southern Historical Society, which has accomplished a work so important for the Southern people. In May, 1868, I was a resident of New Orleans, surrounded by many comrades of the war between the States, with whom I daily exchanged recollections of that “the greatest struggle for separate nationality the world has ever seen,” and I felt the importance to history and to our posterity of making, while we could, a record of the facts then fresh in the memories of the actors; and addressed myself to the work.General Maury proceeds to state conferences in furtherance of his desire, as expressed, with Generals Braxton Bragg, Richard Taylor, and others. The progress of the movement is recorded in ‘Proceedings, Vol. I,’ of the Southern Historical Society, as follows:
At a meeting held in the office of Messrs. Stuart, Norton & Co., in the city of New Orleans, at 7:30 o'clock P. M., Thursday, April 15, 1869, the following gentlemen were present: General Braxton Bragg, Major J. E. Austin, General Dabney H. Maury, Major B. M. Harrod, General S. B. Buckner, Captain S. H. Buck, Colonel A. L. Stuart, Captain George Norton, Mr. C. L. C. Dupuy. The record continues that the meeting was called to order by General Maury, upon whose motion General Bragg was called to the chair. Mr. Dupuy, upon request, acted as secretary. General Maury then stated as the purpose of the meeting the ‘considering the practicability of effecting an organization which might effect the collection and preservation of such papers and records as might be valuable in preserving a true history of the causes, events, and results of the late war between the Confederate States and the United States.’ Generals Bragg, Buckner, and others further pressed the desirability of the organization proposed, urging that it would, ‘without doubt, secure the co-operation of intelligent and well-informed gentlemen residing in the different sections of the Southern States, and be the conservator of information which would be invaluable to the future historian, who, untrammelled by personal prejudices or partisan rancor, should undertake the laudable task of giving to the world a true history of the memorable conflict.’ Upon motion of Major Harrod, the meeting was adjourned to reassemble at the same place on April 21st, following. Pursuant to the above ‘a meeting of citizens’ was held on the evening of April 21, 1869. General Bragg was called to the chair. ‘General Richard Taylor moved the appointment by the chair of a committee of five, who, together with the chairman, should embody a programme of the Association.’ Upon motion of Major Cluskey, the number of the committee was increased to seven. The following members, whose names appear under the caption of the ‘Founders of Southern Historical Society, New Orleans, April 21, 1869,’ then enrolled themselves, by subscribing their names: Braxton Bragg, R. L. Gibson, R. Taylor, A. L. Stuart, Dabney H. Maury, H. N. Ogden, M. W. Cluskey, B. T. Sage, C. M. Wilcox, F. H. Wigfall, G. W. Gordon, George Norton, B. M. Harrod, Fred. N. Ogden, J. S. Marmaduke, John B. Sale, F. H. Farrar, James Phelan, S. B. Buckner, William H. Saunders,  James Strawbridge, B. M. Palmer, Thomas J. Semmes, Harry T. Hays, E. M. Hudson, J. N. Gallaher, Charles L. C. Dupuy, B. A. Pope, M. D., Joseph Jones, M. D., B. F. Jones, Edward Joy, A. W. Bosworth, Charles Chapotin, C. M. Conrad, J. F. Caldwell, G. T. Beauregard, H. Chapotin, S. E. Chaille, M. D., 1T. H. Richardson, M. D., S. M. Bemiss, M. D., Frank Hawthorn, M. D., John J. O'Brien. G. Waggaman, William S. Pike, J. L. Feurman. At a meeting held at the rooms of the Howard Association, May 1, 1869, General Beauregard was called to the chair. General Bragg, then, as chairman of the committee on organization (composed as follows: Hon. Charles M. Conrad, Rev. Dr. B. M. Palmer, Colonel C. A. Breaux, Hon. T. J. Semmes, Dr. J. Dickson Burns, Rev. J. N. Gallaher, B. F. Jones), made his report, which recommended that ‘the scope of the Society should be broad and general, embracing everything on both sides connected with the recent political and military movements and operations in our country, preceding, during and following the war,’ and that it be designated ‘The Southern Historical Society.’ It was provided that there should be a President, Vice-President, a Secretary and Treasurer, with an Advisory Committee to consist of the above named officers, ex-officio, and of four other members to be elected by the Society annually. ‘With a view to extend the influence of the Association,’ ‘the appointment of a Vice-President in each State’ was advised. It was urged that ‘much circumspection and judgment should be displayed in the office of Secretary, as the officer upon whom will devolve the labor and responsibility of conducting the most important work of the Society, and we must not expect to command the services of such a one, without compensation; but he should be the only paid officer of the Society.’ A circular address was directed to be prepared and issued by the Secretary, setting forth the objects of the Society, etc. The report was adopted.  Upon the nomination of Rev. Dr. B. M. Palmer, Dr. Joseph Jones was elected Secretary and Treasurer. Rev. B. M. Palmer, D. Da. was elected President; General Braxton Bragg, Vice-President, and the following gentlemen representing the ‘four professions,’ the Advisory Committee: J. Dickson Burns, Thomas J. Semmes, W. S. Pike, General Harry T. Hays. The initiation fee of members was fixed at $5.00, and the annual subscription $6.00. At this meeting ‘A. L. Stuart’ was ‘Acting Secretary.’ At a meeting held May 10, 1869, in the rooms of the Howard Association, an official circular drawn by the President, Rev. B. M. Palmer, D. D., was recommended by the Advisory Committee, and adopted by the Society. At a meeting held June 14, 1869, the Secretary, Dr. Joseph Jones, submitted modifications of and additions to the circular, which were adopted. The objects of the Society were therein stated with great perspicuity and comprehension. The desire was to obtain materials for a just and accurate history of the great struggle, and representative documents and circumstantial details were to be sought for throughout the Union. The material gathered was to be classified and carefully arranged. Copies of the circular, in manuscript, were sent by the Secretary to the following Vice-Presidents of the Society for the several States, who had been ‘appointed’: Virginia—General Robert E. Lee. Maryland—Hon. S. Teackle Wallace. North Carolina—Lieutenant-General D. H. Hill. South Carolina—Lieutenant-General Wade Hampton. Georgia—Hon. Alexander H. Stephens. Alabama—Admiral Raphael Semmes. Tennessee—Governor Isham G. Harris. Mississippi—Governor Benjamin G. Humphreys. Texas—Colonel Ashbel Smith. Kentucky—Major-General John C. Breckenridge. Missouri—General Trusten Polk. Arkansas—Hon. A. H. Garland. Florida—Hon. Stephen R. Mallory. District of Columbia—William Wilson Corcoran. In accordance with a resolution of the Society six thousand copies of the circular were printed, which were distributed throughout the South, partially by the aid of the several Vice-Presidents in the several  States, to each of whom one hundred and fifty copies were sent. The circular was also generally reprinted in the newspapers and literary and medical magazines throughout the Southern States, and quite extensively in the Northern States. At the meeting held the 14th of June, the Secretary, Dr. Joseph Jones, also presented for the consideration of the parent Society a Constitution or Plan of Permanent Organization of the Southern Historical Society, modelled upon the organic constitutions of other learned and scientific societies. On motion of General Maury, this ‘Plan’ was received and referred to the Advisory Committee. It was finally and unanimously adopted, and manuscript copies were forwarded to the several Vice-Presidents of the States by the Secretary. This ‘Plan’ or ‘Constitution’ was subscribed to by the following members, in the order here given: Harry T. Hays, Dabney H. Maury, A. B. Bacon, Ch. Chapotin, H. Chapotin, Henry Ginder, Charles L. C. Dupuy, A. W. Bosworth, F. R. Southmayd, Geo. W. Logan, Jr., Samuel Logan, M. D., Rufus R. Rhodes, H. N. Jenkins, F. H. Wigfall, James Strawbridge, Wm. Palfrey, C. M. Wilcox, Edward Peychaud, G. T. Beauregard, Braxton Bragg, B. J. Sage, W. C. Black, Benj. M. Palmer, D. D. Colcock, John Turpin, Henry V. Ogden, R. Q. Mallard, Hugh McClosky, Edward Ivy, Wm. S. Pike, J. N. Brown, Robt. Lewis, Henry M. Smith, Charles B. Singleton, James B. Price, John W. Caldwell, M. D. At a meeting of the Society held June 13, 1870, in the rooms of the Howard Association, the Secretary and Treasurer submitted his official report for the year ending May 9, 1870.  The total receipts of the Society had been $300. They had been derived in sums of $5 and $10, paid in variously by the following members: Charles Chapotin, Henry Chapotin, Thomas L. Semmes, B. M. Palmer, John Goleverien, T. R. Southmayd, B. W. Harrod, Braxton Bragg, Towson Ellis, Dabney H. Maury, George Norton, G. Waggaman, George W. Logan, A. W. Bosworth, Samuel Logan, M. D., D. Warren Brickell, M. D., Harry T. Hays, A. B. Bacon, J. Strawbridge, T. N. Ogden, Henry Ginder, Charles L. C. Dupuy, Wm. Palfrey, Rufus R. Rhodes, H. N. Jenkins, C. M. Wilcox, Edward Peychaud, Rev. R. Q. Mallard, J. S. Bernard, T. C. Herndon, W. C. Black, D. D. Colcock, B. J. Sage, G. T. Beauregard, H. F. Beauregard, F. H. Wigfall, W. J. Pike, John Rennard, Ed. Palfrey, John Finney, W. M. Goodrich, Col. Fontaine, Hugh McClosky, Thomas A. Adams. There had been expended by the Secretary and Treasurer the sum of $313.50, of which $85 had been for books ordered for the library of the Society, and the remaining $218.50 in necessary incidental expenses—stationery, postage, printing, advertising, etc. Propositions from several publishers of magazines to print the documents or transactions of the Society had been discussed, and various efforts had been made to secure lectures by prominent ex-officers of the Confederate Army, but the present compiler is without information as to the printing of any such matter or the delivery of any lecture. In the report of Dr. Jones he urges correspondence with the various surviving officers of the late Confederate States Army, and the securing from them of documentary material, personal reminiscences, etc.  The election of officers of the Society was then held. Dr. Palmer declining re-election, General Braxton Bragg was elected President, and General Dabney H. Maury, Vice-President. Dr. Joseph Jones was nominated by General Hays as Secretary and Treasurer.
Dr. Jones returned his thanks to the Southern Historical Society for the honor which had been conferred on him, and said that he had accepted the office from a similar interest in a work in which he had been engaged since the inception of the American Civil War—viz.: the preservation of all authentic Southern records. The labor during the first year in the organization of the Southern Historical Society—of the conduction of the correspondence, although numerous and exacting—had been cheerfully borne as due to a sacred cause, but justice to the Association compelled him to say that his professional engagements and duties were such that it would be impossible for him any longer to expend the large amount of time necessary for the performance of the duties of Secretary and Treasurer.Dr. Jones was also then in very feeble health.
On motion of General Harry T. Hays, the thanks of the Society were tendered to Dr. Joseph Jones for the valuable services rendered the Southern Historical Society during the past twelve months for the able and efficient manner in which he had performed the duties of Secretary and Treasurer.Colonel James Strawbridge was then elected Secretary and Treasurer. At a meeting held December 12, 1870, Colonel James Strawbridge resigned the office of Secretary and Treasurer. The next recorded meeting is dated July 10, 1871, at which were present ten members. Rev. B. M. Palmer, D. D., presided. He was elected President, General G. T. Beauregard, Vice-President, and the following the Executive Committee of the Society: Rev. B. M. Palmer, D. D., General D. H. Maury, General G. T. Beauregard, General Cadmus M. Wilcox, B. J. Sage. It was ‘unanimously’ resolved that ‘a salary of $500 per annum be attached to the office of Secretary and Treasurer.’ The minutes are signed by ‘F. R. Southmayd, Secretary pro tem.’ Dr. J. W. Caldwell was elected Secretary and Treasurer of the Society. At a meeting held October 9, 1871, General Jubal A. Early was elected Vice-President for the State of Virginia, vice General R. E. Lee, deceased. At a meeting held June 10, 1872, the Secretary and Treasurer reported the receipts of the Society as $708, and the expenditures as  $426.75, including salary to himself for six months. Balance on hand, $281.25. The officers of the Society were re-elected. At a meeting held June 9, 1873, the Secretary and Treasurer made the following report:
|On hand at last report,||$281 25|
|Received during the year,||380 00|
|Expended as per account,||484 25|
Pursuant to the above, the Society met at Richmond, in the Capitol, in the Senate chamber, at 8 o'clock P. M., October 29, 1873. After prayer by Rev. George Woodbridge, D. D,, of the Episcopal Church, the President, General Jubal A. Early, introduced with  eulogistic remarks, General Wade Hampton, of South Carolina, who delivered an eloquent address, which will be found in the January number, 1874, of the Southern Magazine. Appropriate addresses were subsequently made by Hon. J. L. M. Curry, L. L. D., Rev. Moses D. Hoge, D. D., and Major Robert Stiles. The Society reassembled the following day in the same place, when the chairman of the Executive Committee, General Dabney H. Maury, reported that ‘a contract had been made with Messrs. Turnbull Brothers, Baltimore, Maryland, by which the Society had bound itself to make the Southern Magazine, published by said Turnbull Brothers, its organ for all its publications; the publishers agreeing to issue every month, free of cost, an appendix to their magazine of twenty pages of the historical documents of the Society, to be paged as a separate series and to print for the Society as much more of its records as might be desired at a moderate cost.’ A retrospect as to the mediums of publication of the reports, etc., of the Society may be deemed of interest. The first official reports of the Southern Historical Society were published in the New Orleans Picayune, and cognate matter in ‘The Land We Love’ Charlotte, N. C., conducted by General D. H. Hill. In July, 1869, this publication was merged into ‘The New Eclectic Magazine,’ published in Baltimore, Maryland, by Turnbull & Murdock. ‘The New Eclectic Magazine’ was later merged into the ‘Southern Magazine.’ The Messrs. Turnbull Brothers continued their connection with the Southern Historical Society until July, 1875, when they appear to have become financially involved. The first volume of the ‘Transactions’ were published as provided in the JanuaryDecem-ber numbers, inclusive, of the ‘Southern Magazine.’ The second volume, as stated, was never completed. At a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Society held December 17, 1874, a letter from Colonel Munford, resigning his office as Secretary and Treasurer of the Society because of new engagements into which he had entered, was read. On motion, the resignation was accepted with regrets for the necessity of his action, and thanks for the faithful and efficient manner in which he had discharged the duties of his office. Rev. J. William Jones, D. D., was then elected Secretary and Treasurerpro tem. At a meeting held January 12, 1875, his election was made permanent.  Under his editorial conduction the publication in monthly numbers of The Southern Historical Society Papers was commenced in January, 1876. Thus, six semi-annual and six annual volumes— 1879-1884—were issued. The monthly publication was discontinued with the number for December, 1884. Dr. Jones edited subsequently two annual volumes. In 1883 the offices of Secretary and Treasurer were separated, and Hon. George L. Christian was elected to the latter office, which he still holds. At a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Society held June 25, 1887, Dr. Jones, ‘having accepted the position of Assistant Secretary of the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention,’ tendered his resignation as Secretary of the Society, which was accepted. July 14 following, the present Secretary was elected. With the present volume he has edited four volumes of The Southern Historical Society Papers, making eighteen in all, which have been published. The Society has had some vicissitudes in its fortunes, and at the time of the resignation of Dr. Jones as Secretary he held quite positively that it would be extremely hazardous for the Society to attempt to print another volume. The present volume is partly paid for, and it is hoped that its cost will be entirely met with the collection of outstanding subscriptions. All previous volumes have been paid for, and incidental expenses met, without diminution of the endowment or building fund, which is $4,000. The most pleasant and mutually helpful relations have been maintained by the Society with the United States War Record Office, and full access to the archives of the Society also afforded to the recently constituted United States Naval Records Office at Washington, D. C. Its agent, Captain H. B. Littlepage, spent several weeks in selecting material, which was subsequently copied. Grateful acknowledgment is due Major George B. Davis, United States Army, and General Marcus J. Wright, formerly of the Confederate Army, for constant courtesies and invaluable assistance afforded the Southern Historical Society. The Legislature, by an enactment, having made doubtful the tenure of the Society of the room which it occupied in the Capitol, the Secretary, through kindly furtherance of the Honorables Lyon G. Tyler and William Lovestein of the House of Delegates and of the Senate of Virginia, respectively, secured the passage of the following, February 23, 1888: 
The Society being without a seal, the Secretary at a meeting of the Executive Committee, held October 26, 1888, submitted a design, adapted from the great or broad seal of the late Confederate States of America, which was adopted. Both are fully described and pictured in the Papers, Volume XVI, pages 416-422. The seal of the Society, which is excellently engraved, was generously executed, without charge, by Mr. M. S. O'Donnell, now of Malden, Massachusetts. The Secretary, in accepting such trust, was constrained by patriotic and dutiful motives. There are natural claims upon him which all must respect, yet he has done what he could for the sustenance of the Society and the advancement of its interests. It is to be profoundly regretted that it has not the support which should be cheerfully accorded it by our people of the South.