SEATED VIEW OF ARDENT SUCCESSIONIST LOUIS T. WIGFALL – LATER A CONFEDERATE GENERAL

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Waist-up seated view of Wigfall in a dark civilian coat with darker felt collar, light vest and dark bowtie.

Contrast and clarity are good. Mount and paper are sepia in tone.

Reverse has a photographer’s imprint for C. D. FREDRICKS & CO… NEW YORK. Period pencil ID reads simply “WIGFALL S.C.” There is also some collector information in pencil at bottom.

From the collection of the late William A. Turner.

Louis Trezevant Wigfall was born April 21, 1816 in Edgefield, South Carolina. He was educated at South Carolina College and the University of Virginia, and was there inculcated with the prevailing Southern belief in social classes and the need for slavery as part of an industrial workforce. He was too argumentative to practice law and instead focused on politics; his fiery nature placing him in several duels, one of which resulted in him killing a man. In 1846 he moved his family to Texas, first arriving in Galveston then traveling to Nacogdoches where he set up as a partner in a successful law firm. He involved himself in Texas politics immediately, warning of the threat of the growing power of Northern abolitionists in the United States Congress. Promoting himself and his cause constantly, in 1850 he was named to the Texas House of Representatives where he immediately became a pariah by accusing Sam Houston of cowardice and treason. He was an enormously influential speaker, however, and is widely credited with defeating Houston's bid for governor in 1857; that same year Wigfall was elected to the Texas Senate. He seemed to moderate his tone during his term, focusing on strengthening the Democrat position in the Texas Congress; but when John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry occurred, Wigfall again became the radical. Stoking the fears of his constituents, he was elected to the United States Senate in 1859 on a platform to secure the status quo. With the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, Wigfall made his position clear, coauthoring the "Southern Manifesto" and calling for a Southern secession from the Northern states. After Texas seceded, he used his place in the Senate to spy for the Confederacy, fund troops training in Maryland to fight in South Carolina, and generally using Union money to support the Southern cause, going as far as to purchase weapons and horses for Texas troops. He was finally thrown out of the Senate in the summer of 1861. He was snapped up quickly into the Confederate inner circle, serving as both an aide to Jefferson Davis and as a colonel of the First Texas Infantry. It was through his friendship with Jefferson Davis that he was promoted to brigadier general after only a month of service, having fought in no battles or proving himself in any way whatsoever. He served on the staff of General P. G. T. Beauregard during the Fort Sumter crisis and made an unauthorized trip to the fort to offer the Union forces surrender terms. He was later assigned commander of Hood's Texas Brigade in Virginia until February 1862, when he was elected into the Confederate Congress. As was his habit, he once again began alienating everyone around him, arguing with President Davis over military matters, and over the next two years began an underground movement to have Davis expelled. With the defeat of the South, Wigfall retreated home to Texas, then left there in 1866 for England, where he tried to create dissension between Britain and the United States in hopes of causing another Civil War - one in which he hoped the South would win. Failing again, he returned to the States in 1872 and lived in Baltimore for two years before returning, broken, to Galveston, where he died on February 18, 1874. He is buried in Galveston’s Trinity Episcopal Cemetery.  [ad] [ph:L]

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