06 January 2009

Little Aleck

Ok, so here is the reason I came to Crawfordville, this is the home and burial site of Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens. We begin in the small on site museum displaying various artifacts from the Civil War.

Uniforms and weapons

Medical equipment

Pieces of railroad that was destroyed by Sherman's army enroute to Savannah.

Various reunion badges and ribbons

This was perhaps the most interesting thing in the museum. I had not heard of the Cross of Honor before, and certainly not in this context. The Cross of Honor was created by the Confederate government as a military award similar to the US Medal of Honor. After the war, around 1900, the Daughters of the Confederacy were authorized to give the awards post-humously. The awards pictured above, however, appear to be modern US awards, with the Southern Cross on bottom. For example the green and yellow striped one in the center is clearly the Vietnam Service medal and says so on the medal itself, but instead of the traditional round medal, it is cross shaped. Likewise with the blue and white Korean Service medal to is left. If anyone has more information on these, I am certainly interested to find out more.
Alexander Stephens was born, raised, and educated in Georgia, and rose to become a very succesful lawyer despite his small size and high voice. He began his political career in 1836 when he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. He then moved from there to the State Senate, then the US House until 1859. In spite of the fact that he opposed secession, when the South left, he was elected to the Confederate Congress, then became the Vice President of the Confederacy. Toward the end of the war, he realized the situation's futility and left Richmond to return to his home, where he was captured on May 11, 1865. He was held as a prisoner at Fort Warren, Massachusetts for five months before he was pardoned. In 1873 he returned to the US Congress until 1882 when he was elected Governor. Unfortunetly, he died four months later. His house named Liberty Hill, was purchased in 1845, but he tore it down and rebuilt it in 1875. Above is the master bedroom, built on the first floor right in front. unusual design, but built for him because by then he was crippled, hence the wheelchair by the bed. Another interesting feature is that the bed faces north-south. He was always a sickly person, and a widely held belief at the time was that the north-south magnetic lines were good for health.

This is what was known as the "man room", where his desk was, and where he played Whist. Many of the items in the house were his, and were returned when the State bought the house. Everything else is authentic period though. For example, the table here belonged to his college roommate. The bust in the back is of him, done by a youth who he payed to put through college. He did this with many students, both white and black.

This is the dining room. The wheelchair here was his first. Donated by a group of ladies from Philadelphia that were impressed by a speech he gave them.

The tea room, or "ladies room". The organ belonged to him, though he didn't play it. Although he was not married, he often had ladies at the house, and they would play the organ for him.

A guest bedroom for visiting family members, usually his half brother, Linton

Bedroom for visiting children

Ledger kept by his half brother Linton.

This room was specially reserved for Robert Toombs, his good friend. Toombs was a fellow lawyer, fellow college alumni, also served in Congress, and was the Confederate Secretary of State. He lived a few miles up the road in Washington, GA. I originally planned to visit his house too, but ran out of time.

His personal library, many of his original books are still here, as well as the ladder. This room is where he was captured by Union troops, and existed at the time because it is in a small separate portion of the house that was not rebuilt.

His bedroom back of the library, where he stayed while the main house was rebuilt.

His servant's house

Inside the servant's house

A photo of his house servants. The woman, Eliza, had belonged to him since she was 12. The male is Harry, who she met and wished to marry, but he belonged to someone else. The following letter was written in March 1850 from Stephens to Linton, who was watching the house while he was away:
"Dear Brother-
In my letter written at the house today I forgot to reply to the request Googer's Harry to take Eliza for a wife. Say to him that I have no objection-And tell Eliza to go to Simon and Henrys and get her a wedding dress including a pair of fine shoes etc. and to have a decent wedding of it. Let them cook a supper and have such of their friends as they wish-Tell them to get some "Parson Man" and be married like "Christian Folks". Let the wedding come off sometime when you are home so that you may keep order amongst them. Buy a pig and let them have a good supper-Let Eliza bake some pound cake and set a good wedding table. "
Stephens was known to be a kind master to all of his slaves, and following the war, he put one of Harry and Eliza's kids through college. Descendants of him recently held a reunion at Liberty Hall to pay their respects to Stephens.

This is the gas pump that provided gas to the lamps in the house. The large well on the left housed the tank, and the cabling led to a large stone weight. About twice a week, the machine was wound up, and then a back and forth type motion applied a continous pressure on the tank to send the gas.

Stephens grave, which reads:
This tablet is a tribute from the Old Guard of the Gate City Guard to the member of their departed friend Alexander Hamilton Stephens. Patriot and Statesman, Vice President of the Confederate States of America, born feb 11, 1812, died mar 4 1883. His remains rest beneath this tablet. Dedicated Oct 19, 1913

Grave of his half brother Linton Stephens reads:
Linton Stephens, Georgia, Lt Col 15thRegt GA Infantry Confederate States Army, July 1, 1823, July 14, 1872.

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