The Isaiah Garrett, Jr. Letters is comprised of 41 autograph letters written by Isaiah Garrett Jr. between February 19th, 1859 and December 14th, 1865. Twenty-five of the letters are addressed to his older brother, Frank, fifteen are addressed to his parents, and one is addressed to his sister, Sarah. Thirty-seven of the forty-one letters were written while Garrett was a student at Georgetown University on the eve of the American Civil War, one was written in Baton Rogue, LA in 1859, two were written from Civil War camps in Georgia and Mississippi, and one was written in Monroe, LA several months after the end of the Civil War.
During his first year at Georgetown College, 1859-1860, during which time he turned 15, Isaiah, Jr., seemed to be primarily concerned with his studies, grades, life at Georgetown, and life back home, occasionally admitting to bouts of homesickness; during his second year, 1860-1861, his concerns turned to national issues, the election of 1860, looming war, etc., and a strong urge to join his brother in school at the University of North Carolina. Though most of the letters contain pro-forma sentiments, salutations, and closings, typical of correspondence of the day, the young Garrett wrote with the maturity and passion of an upper-class teenager, sure of his eventual place in the world and eager to attain it.
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Isaiah Garrett, Jr., was the second surviving son of Isaiah Garrett (1812-1874), a well-to-do lawyer and planter in Monroe, Louisiana. The elder Garrett was born in Franklin, Tennessee and raised in Missouri; he won an appointment to West Point, graduating in 1833, but almost immediately left the service due to poor eyesight. After settling in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, Garrett read law, obtaining his license to practice before the state supreme court in 1835 before entering into a partnership with Judge E.K. Willson, then "the leading lawyer of the north Louisiana bar," a mantle assumed by Garrett upon his mentor's retirement. After marrying Narcissa Grayson, a member of a prominent area family, in 1836, Garrett settled into work and family life, the couple raising five children (six others died before the age of six) while he built his reputation, serving as district attorney, an important member of the state constitutional convention in 1845, and as a co-operationist member of the secession convention in 1861, all the while handling important legal cases in his area and beginning another life as a planter, establishing "Lindwood," a large plantation on the river south of Monroe in the early 1850s. In 1857 Garrett gave up the practice of law to concentrate on the plantation, building a new home there for his family; by the first year of the Civil War, however, he and the family had moved back to Monroe. At war's end, he resumed his practice of law, training his two elder sons in his office, and sold his country property. Isaiah, Jr., left home for Georgetown at 14 and studied there for two years, before joining a Louisiana regiment in the Confederate States Army, serving as a private to the war’s end; he farmed and practiced law in Monroe, Louisiana, after the war and held a variety of local official positions, but died a relatively young man, at 52.
0.20 Cubic Feet (1 Slim Document Case)
Some storage wear and soiling, but most of the letters are in good condition and legible. The most fragile of the letters have been placed in mylar for protection, excepting the letters from 1863, due to their size and some pencil markings.
Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository