Thursday, May 27, 2004

Senator Asa Biggs, North Carolina, 1865


"All the valuable part of my Library was destroyed or carried off by the Federal Forces when they occupied my former residence in 1862." Asa Biggs, Nov. 30, 1865

This is a letter written by North Carolina Senator, Asa Biggs from Tarboro, North Carolina only a five months post war. The letter is addressed to Messrs. W. H. and O.H. Morrison.

Asa Biggs has quite a political history. He was an ardent supporter of slavery and states' rights, he approved of secession and resigned his federal position in 1861 to take a seat in the Secession Convention. He served as a Confederate district judge from 1861 until the end of the Civil War.
One of his three sons, Henry, was killed at Appomattox on 8 Apr. 1865. Another, William, also served in the Confederate Army and later became editor of the Oxford (N.C.) Free Lance. Biggs's other children included Asa Thomas, Lucy E., Patricia, and Cottie. Never wealthy, he often despaired of being able to provide for his large family. Reading the letter offered here, one gets a sense of his despair.

Biggs moved to Dalkeith in 1863 to settle on land he had acquired there. After the war he practiced law in Tarboro, (the city from which the letter is written) until he moved to Norfolk. A devoutly religious man, he experienced a religious conversion and described it in an autobiography written for his children in 1865 (published in 1915 by the North Carolina Historical Commission). He died in Norfolk and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery there.


"Tarboro, N.C., Nov. 30, 1865

Messrs. W. H. & O. H. Morrison:

Gentleman -- I am located at this place and expect to resume the practice of my profession and open a Law School to make a living. All the valuable part of my Library was destroyed or carried off by the Federal Forces when they occupied my former residence in 1862. I desire to replenish as far as I have the means and I now write as proposed by me to one of your firm while I was in Washington to inform you of the Congressional books left me and to ascertain if I can make an exchange for some Law Books. The Congressional Books are of my former residence in Williamston and a friend has sent me the following catlogue....

Can you take them and if so what is the most liberal price you can allow? I can box them up carefully and send them from Williamston via Norfolk, Va., and the books you send me can be forwarded via Norfolk to the care of Kader Biggs & Co., Norfolk Va....

I suggest this route as it will be less expensive, being water carriage all the way. I desire first to procure all the Statutes of the Unitied States during the war and the Decision of the Supreme court during gthe same time and afterward I can fill up my set of Reports & c.. I desire also to obtain the latest edition of any reiliable work on the Internal Revenue Acts, the most complete one I have seen is a publication by Bontwell, late commissioner of Internal Revenue. I desire also to procure a supply of staionery, one ream of good letter paper, one foolscap, 1/4 or 1/2 ream of conveancing paper and some envelopes and pens. In reply please state at what price you can furnish these articles so that I may see if I shall have the means to pay as I desire to confine myself to my resources for payment. Hoping to hear from you at our earliest convenience.

I am respectfully your obt. servant...Asa Biggs...

P.S. I find I have lost my copy of Brightley's Digest. I shall like to obtain the latest editio nof that work or any other which gives a Digest of the Statutes and if the recent statutes are included, I shall not need the Statutes themselves.

Letters & Postcards on E-Bay