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A National Repository for the Records and Relics of the Southern cause, proposed by Charles Broadway Rouss, of New York.

In the month of November last, Mr. Charles Broadway Rouss, a successful and philanthropic merchant of New York City, but a native of Virginia, submitted a proposition to various ‘Veteran Camps,’ ‘Memorial Associations,’ and ‘Historical Societies’ in the Southern States, for the establishment of a National Confederate Museum or Repository for the records and relics of the Southern Cause.

He urged that the preservation of precious memorials and the perpetuation of ‘Homes’ for the refuge of veterans and their widows and needy orphans, might only be assured by active and earnest co-operation. Toward these ends he proposed the formation of a General Association, the objects of which would be the collection of records and relics, and the raising of a fund of $200,000, or more, with which to erect a proper building for their permanent preservation, and to provide an income for its maintenance.

Lee Camp of Confederate Veterans, Commander E. Leslie Spence, promptly responded to Mr. Rouss, and delegated Major Norman V. Randolph to visit him and ascertain as definitely as he might his plans and views, and further, to submit the claims of Richmond as the place, and the Confederate Memorial Literary Society (which now owns the house occupied by President Jefferson Davis) as the organization to which the patriotic trust might worthily be committed.

Mr. Rouss proposed that each Veteran Camp should subscribe at least $10, and inspired the hope that he would insure the final success of his scheme.

The location of the Museum, Mr. Rouss suggested, should be left to the decision of the ten senior generals of the Confederate army, now living. [388]

These are stated by General Marcus J. Wright, of the National War Record Office, to be as follows:

1. James Longstreet, lieutenant-general October 9, 1862.

2. Stephen D. Lee, lieutenant-general (temporary rank) January 23, 1864.

3. Ambrose P. Stewart, lieutenant-general January 23, 1864.

4. S. B. Buckner, lieutenant-general September 20, 1864.

5. Wade Hampton, lieutenant-general February 14, 1865.

6. Gustavus W. Smith, major-general September 19, 1861.

7. La Fayette McLaws, major-general May 23, 1862.

8. S. G. French, major-general August 31, 1862.

9. J. H. Forney, major-general October 27, 1862.

10. Dabney H. Maury, major-general November 11, 1862.

Following the report to Lee Camp by Major Randolph, Mr. M. L. Van Doren, on behalf of the Confederate Memorial Literary Society, addressed Mr. Rouss, tracing the sacred labors of the noble women composing it, from the inauguration of their body, as the Hollywood Memorial Association, directly after the close of the war, for the purpose of caring for the graves of the Confederate dead. Mr. Van Doren's suggestion that the General Association proposed and the ladies of Richmond be joined in common effort and purpose, seemed, from the response of Mr. Rouss, to be favorably entertained by him.

The reply of the Cavalry Association of United Confederate Veterans of New Orleans, La., to the proposition of Mr. Rouss, appeared in the Picayune of January 6, 1895. Whilst favoring the establishment of a National Museum, they were disinclined to yield their garner to another location. They urge that they have ‘a magnificent fire-proof building filled with over 4,000 mementoes, the collection of nearly thirty years, embracing every conceivable species of relic,’ and ‘the determination of every ex-Confederate’ is to preserve it in and to New Orleans, ‘as long as there is one of us left,’ and that they ‘are devising plans for the endowment of the institution to make it self-sustaining.’

It may be apprehended that others than this zealous association, in other wealthy centers, may eagerly desire the location in their midst of the honoring and inspiring repository, and may distance in effective efforts the Capitol of the Southern Confederacy, even with all of its appealing claims. [389]

The noble women composing our Confederate Memorial Literary Society have not only a considerable fund which they have acumulated by devoted effort, but they possess also, what has been declared to be, ‘the finest and most extensive collection of Confederate relics ever made.’

It was formed by the late Mrs. Mary De Renne, of Savannah, Ga., who spared no expense from her abundant means in its enrichment.

In appealing interest and historic value it could scarcely now be equalled. The ladies of the Richmond Society, it is understood, have secured extensive and important additions to it, and it may not be doubted will be increasingly successful in their continued efforts.

The prime consideration now undoubtedly is the enhancement of their fund by the subscriptions of our wealthy citizens toward the ensuring of the sum proposed by the generous and patriotic Rouss. Let Richmond lead in her offering and she must distance her rivals. The gifts of the populace and of the poor are as free as they are in spirit; the gifts of the more favored in fortune should be as unselfish. The importance of the establishment here of this Shrine should not be underestimated.

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