A Guide to the John Anthony Quitman Letters, 1836-1853
Born in 1798 in Rhinebeck, New York, John Anthony Quitman graduated from Hartwick Seminary in 1816 before studying law. Four years later he moved to Chillicothe, Ohio, upon being admitted to the bar, then to Natchez, Mississippi, in 1821. There he purchased the Monmouth Plantation and practiced law until being elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives. There he served as Chancellor of the state and on Mississippi’s Constitutional Convention in 1832. He was elected to the state senate three years later, and in 1838 became a judge on the High Court of Errors and Appeals.
At the start of the Mexican War, Quitman joined the military as Brigadier General of Volunteers and commanded a brigade in Northern Mexico. His unit fought at the battles of Monterrey, Veracruz, Cerro Gordo, Contreras, Churubusco, Chapultepec, and received the surrender of Mexico City’s garrison. After the war, Quitman was appointed military governor of Mexico City until 1848, when he returned to Mississippi and served as governor in 1850 and 1851.
As governor of Mississippi, Quitman assisted Narciso Lopez in his filibuster expedition to Cuba in 1850. When the expedition failed, Quitman was charged with violations of neutrality and resigned his post as governor, though charges against him were dropped after three hung juries. In 1853, Quitman began preparing his own filibustering expedition with the support of President Franklin Pierce, though after the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Pierce stopped the operation fearing it would damage the Democratic Party in the North. Additionally, Quitman was elected to Congress where he served until his death in 1858.
Cutrer, Thomas W. "Quitman, John Anthony." Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed August 4, 2011.
Composed of original and Photostat letters as well as an historical sketch, the John Anthony Quitman Letters, 1836-1853, relate to commerce in the antebellum South. A Photostat letter from Jefferson Davis offers well-wishes to Quitman, while the historical sketch chronicles the history of frontier life in Mississippi.
This collection is open for research use.
John Anthony Quitman Letters, 1836-1853, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light project, 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers