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George T. Anthony papers, 1858-1890

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The George T. Anthony papers consist of letters written to his brother while serving in the Civil War and letters about postwar politics in Kansas, where Anthony held numerous political positions, including governor from 1877-1879.

George Anthony's correspondence is valuable both from what is said and who is saying it. The Civil War letters in this collection are entirely from George to his brother, Benjamin, who was at home tending to the former's business affairs. Thus many of the letters contain an insight into the difficulties of operating personal matters from a distance of several hundred miles. Not only was Benjamin at home handling the reins of business, he was also avoiding the draft as best he could. This bone of contention prompted a number of impassioned sermons from George, out in the field with "my little command."

Anthony writes at length, philosophizing on the principles of war. He argues for a hard line in crushing the rebellion by brute force, a la Grant, whom he regards as "the great military genius of the age." By the same token, Ben Butler is portrayed as a weak sister at best, and Anthony applauds his removal. His desire to see hard fighting is frustrated by orders to stay put and hold his few square yards, orders which he accepts meekly.

Anthony's heavy-handed outlook spills over into Reconstruction, where he favors a retributive policy over clemency. He is surely one of the first to call for the impeachment of Andrew Johnson (March 10th, 1865), although the crime in question is the latter's inebriation on Inauguration Day.

The post-war letters highlight state politics in Kansas. They indicate that Anthony's sister, Cynthia, was involved in philanthropic work in the Reconstruction south. Three letters from an uncle, David Anthony (1801-1874), provide a marvellous view of an old-line Quaker of "wiry tenacious vigor" (according to George), whose piety does not exclude a penchant for wheeling and dealing in big business.