Skip to main content

Henry Washington Hilliard correspondence

Identifier: MSS-0674

Scope and Contents note

The papers consist of photostatic copies of correspondence of Henry Washington Hilliard with others, regarding his various appointments, as Foreign Minister to Belgium and Berlin. The correspondents include John McPherson Berrien, John C. Calhoun, J.O.A. Clark, John M. Clayton, Milliard Fillmore, Benjamin Gardner, Alexander H. Stephens, Benjamin O. Tyler, A. P. Upshaw, and Daniel Webster.

The collection consists of 34 items of correspondence.

The incoming letters are arranged alphabetically by correspondent, while the outgoing letters are arranged chronologically.


  • 1841-1887


Biographical/Historical note

Henry Washington Hilliard was born on August 4, 1908 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He graduated from South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina) in 1826 and later read law under William C. Preston in Columbia, S.C. and A.M. Clayton in Athens, Georgia. He was admitted to the bar in 1829 and practiced law in Athens from 1829-1831.

From 1831-1834 Hilliard served as a professor at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He was the first chair of English literature at the University.

He left the University in 1834 to practice law in Montgomery, Alabama and was elected to the State Legislature as a Whig in 1838. In 1840, Hilliard was a delegate to the Whig National Convention in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and was on the William Henry Harrison electoral ticket. He was appointed Charge d'affaires to Belgium by President John Tyler from 1842-1844. In 1845 he was elected to Congress and served three terms.

He was well known as an anti-secessionist, but when President Lincoln called for volunteers to put down the South, he began to support the Confederate government.

Hilliard was sent as the Commissioner of the Confederate States to treat with Tennessee and persuade them to secede. On 24 April 1862, Hilliard was commissioned a colonel and authorized to recruit a "legion" of about 3,000 men for Confederate service. The command was divided into a cavalry battalion, three infantry battalions, and one artillery battalion (which served mostly as infantry). Hilliard's principal service was in East Tennessee during the latter part of 1862. He resigned his commission on 1 December 1862 to turn his attention to personal affairs. He returned to Montgomery and the practice of law.

In 1865, after the War, he began practising law in Atlanta, Georgia. He was then appointed by President Rutherford B. Hayes as the U.S. Minister to Brazil in which capacity he served from 1877 to 1881.

Hilliard was married twice, first to a Miss Bedell, of Georgia, and then to Mrs. Mayes, a sister of Col. Thomas O. Glascock. He died on December 17, 1892 in Atlanta, Georgia.

For additional information on Henry Washington Hilliard, consult the following items located in the University of Alabama Special Collections:

(1) Marks, Henry S. Who Was Who in Alabama. Huntsville, Alabama: Strode Publishers, 1972.

(2) Owen, Thomas McAdory, L. L. D. History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. Chicago: the S.S. Clark Publishing Company, 1921.


1.66 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Contains photocopies of correspondence of Henry Washington Hilliard with others, regarding his various diplomatic appointments, as Foreign Minister to Belgium and Berlin.

Processed by

Betty P. Chancellor, 1981
Guide to the Henry Washington Hilliard Correspondence
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266