Jefferson Davis and Howell Cobb Endorse a Letter Proposing to "trade cotton with the Enemy"Jefferson Davis and Howell Cobb Autograph Endorsements Signed on the verso of a single letter. Two pages, 9" x 7.75" (sight), [Danville, Virginia], April 10, 1865. On February 20, 1865, outspoken secessionist, Confederate officer, and blockade runner, Charles Augustus Lafayette Lamar, godson of the famed Revolutionary War hero, the Marquis de Lafayette, wrote to Maj. General Howell Cobb informing him that he wished to supply "...troops operating in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida & Alabama (& I think I can supply the whole army)," he writes, "provided, you will obtain for me from our Government permission to trade Cotton with the Enemy...The terms, if the Government will assent to it, shall be made acceptable to you. I want no advances from the Government, will demand cotton upon delivery of the goods. I have two of the fastest Strs: in the world, all ready to go immediately into the business."
Gen. Howell Cobb, from his headquarters in Macon, immediately endorsed the verso before forwarding the letter on to the John C. Breckinridge, Confederate secretary of war, saying: "I am clearly and decidedly of the opinions that we should obtain the supplies which our cotton will get for us..." Cobb then forwarded it on to President Jefferson Davis, who placed his own endorsement "...for consideration..." on the verso, dated April 10, 1865, just one day after the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House. Minor damage along the left edge does not affect the text. Moderate, uneven toning on the verso. Davis' signature is small, but bright.
Two days after endorsing the plan, Davis heard of Lee's surrender and he fled south to Greensboro, North Carolina. On April 16, Lamar joined in the defense of Georgia against Union cavalry advancing from Alabama. He was taken prisoner and, believing he had a hidden weapon, was shot and killed by his captors. Matted with a facsimile copy of the first page of the letter, the original can be seen through a small window on the back, and portraits of Davis, Cobb, and Lamar to an overall size of 23.5" x 40.25".
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