We love our letterhead here in the processing sections of the Library of Virginia. One can come across such interesting, varied, and colorful examples while processing Governor’s papers, personal letters, or court records. We’ve shared a few examples of our finds in previous blog postings and have happily learned that you love them, too! As a result, we continue to save examples for future Out of the Box installments. It was with that thought that I made a Xerox of the following letterhead, assuming that I’d add it to our growing file to share at a later date. I showed it to a colleague, and she said, “Google those lines and see what you find.” Sure enough, there was more to this letterhead than met the eye.
The image and line refer to a song written during the 1844 presidential campaign for Whig Party nominee Henry Clay. The illustration shows a raccoon holding a document (or stick) labeled “Constitution,” and rolling a large ball after a scurrying fox. Considered to be the first modern national campaign, the 1844 contest pitted the Whig, Clay, against Democrat James K. Polk. This being Clay’s third presidential race, the Democrats pejoratively dubbed him “the same old coon” in reference to his perennial candidacy. In response, the Whigs decided to embrace the moniker, even using the raccoon image on … read more »
The recent deactivation of Fort Monroe as a military installation and its transfer back to the Commonwealth of Virginia calls to mind the fort’s rich history. This history is well documented in the archives of the Library of Virginia. The Executive Papers of Governor Wilson Cary Nicholas contain a letter from President James Madison dated 29 May 1816 on the need to protect the Chesapeake Bay and fortify Old Point Comfort (Accession 41612). The Executive Communications to the Speaker of the House of Delegates include a letter from Secretary of War John C. Calhoun to Governor Thomas Mann Randolph in 1821 regarding the cession of the fortifications under construction at Old Point Comfort and the shoal called Rip Raps (Accession 36912, Miscellaneous Reel 5389). The archives also preserve a quartermaster letter book from the 1830s describing the day-to-day operations of the fort during that time period (Accession 24542, Miscellaneous Reel 475). A recently discovered letter from John Grant, acting engineer and draftsman for the Potomac Department, to Captain Matthew Fontaine Maury of the Advisory Council of Virginia contains Grant’s map illustrating Fort Monroe and nearby Fort Calhoun (Accession 50135). The fort continued to protect the Bay during the First and Second World Wars. The papers of George Edward Barksdale note the experiences of a soldier in the Army Medical Reserve Corps stationed … read more »