Old Dominion University Libraries

Robert Morton Hughes Papers, 1754-1950, undated | Special Collections and University Archives

By Janice Halecki

Collection Overview

Title: Robert Morton Hughes Papers, 1754-1950, undated

Collection Identifier: MG 7

ID: 00/MG 7

Primary Creator: Hughes, Robert M. (Robert Morton) (1855-1940)

Extent: 16.4 Linear Feet. More info below.

Arrangement:

The Hughes collection is divided into 14 series:

Series I: Personal Correspondence. Includes R. M. Hughes' correspondence from 1866 to 1939.

Series II: Financial Records. Includes R. M. Hughes' bills, tax receipts and deeds.

Series III: Speeches. Includes R. M. Hughes' speeches on historical, legal, political and literary topics.

Series IV: Writings. Includes R. M. Hughes' writings, both published and unpublished, on political, legal and historical topics.

Series V: Legal Practice. Includes a certificate to practice law in Virginia, correspondence and other papers related to Hughes' legal practice from 1877 to 1924.

Series VI: Politics. Includes material related to Hughes' involvement in Virginia Politics.

Sub series A: Correspondence. Covers the years 1880 to 1939.

Sub series B: Applications for Judgeships. Consists mostly of correspondence from R. M. Hughes and others on his behalf regarding his efforts to be appointed to a federal judgeship. Covers the years 1897 to 1911.

Sub series C: General. Includes background material on Hughes, newspaper clippings and political scrapbooks dated 1902-3 and 1928-9.

Sub series D: Virginia Constitutional Commission. Includes Hughes' correspondence and articles regarding his participation on the Virginia Constitutional Commission from 1926-1929

Series VII: Education. Includes material on Hughes involvement in education, particularly his association with the College of William and Mary.

Sub series A: College of William and Mary. Consists mostly of correspondence from 1878 to 1941, includes correspondence regarding the Norfolk Branch of the College of William and Mary dated 1925-1941.

Sub series B: University of Virginia. Includes correspondence and other materials dated 1884-1938.

Sub series C: State Education Commission. Includes correspondence and other material dated 1927-1928.

Sub series D: State Board of Education. Includes correspondence and other material regarding Hughes' tenure on the State Board of Education 1930-1935.

Series VIII: Memorabilia. Includes certificates, mementos from William and Mary, a memorial volume for Harvey Laird Wilson, and memorial pamphlets (1855-1940).

Series IX: Pictorial Records. Include photographs, drawings and engravings.

Series X: Family Papers. Includes family information and correspondence.

Sub series A: General. Includes a partial family tree and other information on the Hughes, Johnston, and Preston families.

Sub series B: Judge R.W. Hughes (father of R. M. Hughes) includes correspondence from 1840-1902. (3 boxes)

Sub series C: Eliza Johnston Hughes. Contains correspondence from 1843-1901. (2 boxes)

Sub series D: Charles C. Johnston (R. M. Hughes' Maternal Grandfather) correspondence from 1824-1831 (8 documents)

Sub series E: Eliza Preston Johnston (R. M. Hughes' Maternal Grandmother) correspondence from 1821-1827 (9 documents)

Sub series F: Governor John Floyd. Includes one document only, a letter to the Governor of New York regarding fugitive slaves, dated 1832

Sub series G: John B. Floyd (son of Governor John Floyd and R. M. Hughes' adoptive maternal grandfather) includes correspondence from 1831-1863.

Sub series H: Sally B. Preston Floyd (R. M. Hughes' adoptive maternal grandmother) includes correspondence dated 1839-1879 (12 documents)

Sub series I: Edward Johnston. Includes correspondence dated 1847-1848 (2 documents)

Sub series J: John Preston Johnston (R. M. Hughes' maternal uncle) includes correspondence dated 1837-1845 (26 documents)

Sub series K: General Joseph E. Johnston (R. M. Hughes' maternal uncle) includes correspondence related to the civil war, correspondence with General James Longstreet and General Jubal Early, correspondence with relatives, accounts of civil war battles, and a rough draft of his memoirs. (1836-1924)

Sub series L: Various Relatives. Includes correspondence dated 1787-1858 of John Preston and Francis Preston (17 documents), Sarah Campbell Preston (9 documents), Letitial Floyd (1 document), and William Radford (3 documents).

Sub series M: Robert M. Hughes, Jr. Includes correspondence dated 1921-1950, and miscellaneous publications dated 1941-1946.

Series XI: Historical Studies. Includes R. M. Hughes' studies of the Civil War period and the place of some of his relatives in Virginia history.

Sub series A: Governor John B. Floyd. Includes material on Floyd's views and actions at the start of the civil war and correspondence regarding Hughes' historical writings. (1888-1937)

Sub series B: General Joseph E. Johnston. Includes copies of letters to Johnston, newspaper articles, correspondence between Johnston and Hughes regarding the writing of Johnston's memoirs, and correspondence with publishers regarding Johnston's biography. (1891-1939)

Sub series C: Civil War Topics. Includes writings by Hughes, correspondence regarding treatment of Civil War issues in Muzzey's history textbook. (1907-1936)

Sub series D: Virginia History. Includes materials regarding various aspects of Virginia history

Sub series E: General. Includes correspondence on various historical topics and newspaper clippings. (1890-1939)

Series XII: Index Cards. For letters once owned by R. M. Hughes

Series XIII: Miscellaneous. Includes proceedings of the Research Club (1914-1920), correspondence, writings, and scrapbooks.

Series XIV: Oversized Materials. Includes certificates, diplomas, and scrapbooks focused on the Civil War and Spanish-American War.

Date Acquired: 05/19/1976. More info below under Accruals.

Subjects: College of William and Mary. Board of Visitors, College of William and Mary. Norfolk Division, Confederate States of America. Army, Floyd, John B. (John Buchanan), 1806-1863, Hughes, Robert M. (Robert Morton), 1855-1940, Hughes family, Johnston, Joseph E. (Joseph Eggleston), 1807-1891, Lawyers--Virginia--Norfolk, United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865, Virginia. State Board of Education

Languages: English

Abstract

Contains personal and political correspondence regarding his legal practice, involvement in Virginia politics and his activities in support of education. Had longtime association with the College of William and Mary, served on the State Board of Education and the Board of Directors of the Norfolk Public Library. Significant aspect of this collection is the papers of his family, Governor John B. Floyd, General Joseph E. Johnston, and Judge Robert W. Hughes, important public figures before, during, and after the Civil War.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Hughes Papers are divided into three major sections. The first section contains Hughes' personal and political correspondence, speeches, literary efforts, small amounts of material related to his legal practice and to his involvement in Virginia political affairs (included is his participation in the Constitutional Commission of 1926-1927), and considerable material about his activities in support of education. Of particular note in this last area are his longtime association with the College of William and Mary (1870-1940) and his service on the State Board of Education (1930-1935).

The second section consists of correspondence and other papers originally belonging to certain of Hughes' relatives. Some of the correspondence goes back to the late 18th century. The major figures are Hughes' father Judge R. W. Hughes (d. 1901). his mother Eliza Johnston Hughes (d. 1908), his adoptive maternal grandfather John B. Floyd, (1806-1863) and his maternal great uncle Joseph E. Johnston, (1807-1891). Judge Hughes was one of the first prominent Virginian's to turn Republican in the post-Civil War Period; Floyd was Governor of Virginia (1849-1852), Secretary of War under Buchanan (1857-1860), and a general in the Confederate army (1861-1863); Johnston was a general in both the U.S. and Confederate armies (1860-1865). Among Hughes' papers are a number of incomplete drafts of Johnston's published war memoirs.

The third section consists of correspondence and other material related to Hughes' extensive activity as an amateur historian. The central topics are the careers of Gen. Johnston and Governor Floyd and after that Virginia and southern history in general.

Collection Historical Note

Robert Morton Hughes was born on September 10, 1855, in the house of his mother's adoptive parents, Gov. John B. Floyd and Sally Preston Floyd at Abingdon in southwestern Virginia. Through his parents, Robert W. Hughes and Eliza Johnston Hughes, he was related to many of Western Virginia's prominent families, including the Prestons, Johnstons, Mortons, and Floyds. Hughes lived in Washington, D.C. and Richmond while still a child but spent most of his early life in Abingdon. He was educated there, largely by private tutors.

Hughes entered the College of William and Mary in 1870 at the age of 15 and graduated with an A. B. degree in 1873. His association with William and Mary would continue throughout his adult life. Hughes served on the college's Board of Visitors from 1893 to 1918 and was rector from 1905 to 1918. He was also an active fundraiser for the college and was instrumental in the establishment of its Marshall-Wythe School of Government and Citizenship. In 1920 his grateful alma mater awarded him an honorary doctor of laws degree while in 1959 the library of the Norfolk branch of William and Mary (now Old Dominion University) was named in his memory.

Hughes also attended the University of Virginia where he studied law and earned a M.A. degree in 1877. After being admitted to the bar this same year, Hughes set up practice in Norfolk, Virginia, where he would continue to work until his retirement in 1920. His specialty was admiralty law. Hughes was elected president of the Virginia Bar Association in 1895 and of the Norfolk and Portsmouth Bar Association in 1907. In 1926 he was appointed by the Governor to a special commission created to suggest revisions to the Virginia constitution.

Hughes was a lifelong Republican, following the lead of his father who had been one of the first prominent Virginians to turn Republican during the Reconstruction period. This affiliation would not prove very rewarding for him. An unsuccessful Republican candidate for congress in 1902 and 1904, Hughes also failed in several attempts to be appointed to federal judgeships, beginning in 1897 when he sought to succeed his father as a judge in the district court at Norfolk, Hughes was a staunch conservative and the last years of his life found him ardently opposing the New Deal in general and Roosevelt's attacks on the Supreme Court in particular.

While Hughes never held elective office he served his community in many other ways. Besides his long tenure on the Board of Visitors of William and Mary, he sat on the Board of Directors of the Norfolk Public Library from 1912 to 1938--he was president after 1921--and was a member of the State Board of Education from 1930 until 1935 when he resigned because of failing health. Hughes was also an active member of Christ Church (Episcopal) in Norfolk where he served as a vestryman from 1884 to 1928.

Hughes' major avocation, especially in later life, was that of amateur historian. His main interest was Virginia history and, within this field, the roles played by members of his own family. He felt particularly duty bound to defend the reputations of two close relatives: Gov. John B. Floyd (1806-1863), his adoptive maternal grandfather, and Gen. Joseph E. Johnston (1807-1891), U.S.A., C.S.A., his maternal great uncle. Johnston had in fact asked Hughes to write his official biography, a work which was published by Appleton in 1893. As a result of his commitment Hughes expended much time and energy writing articles and letters refuting "incorrect" statements by various authors which had directly or indirectly denigrated the careers or questioned the integrity of either man.

Robert Morton Hughes died on January 15, 1940. He was survived by his wife - Mattie L. Smith Hughes, a son - Robert M. Hughes, Jr., and two grandchildren -Robert M. Hughes III and Carolyn Wright Hughes. A second son, Sydney Smith Hughes, had died in 1923.

Subject/Index Terms

College of William and Mary. Board of Visitors
College of William and Mary. Norfolk Division
Confederate States of America. Army
Floyd, John B. (John Buchanan), 1806-1863
Hughes, Robert M. (Robert Morton), 1855-1940
Hughes family
Johnston, Joseph E. (Joseph Eggleston), 1807-1891
Lawyers--Virginia--Norfolk
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
Virginia. State Board of Education

Administrative Information

Repository: Special Collections and University Archives

Accruals: Additional accessions made in 1980 and 1983.

Alternate Extent Statement: 42 Hollinger flat document cases and 4 oversize boxes

Access Restrictions: Open to researchers without restrictions.

Use Restrictions: Before publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from Special Collections and University Archives, and the holder of the copyright, if not Old Dominion University Libraries.

Acquisition Source: Hughes Family

Acquisition Method: Gift. Accession #A76-18

Related Materials: Other papers related to Robert Morton Hughes can also be found in the Earl Gregg Swem Library at William & Mary (Mss. 65 H88 and UA 5.013).

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], Box [insert number], Folder [insert number and title], Robert Morton Hughes Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

Finding Aid Revision History: Box and Folder inventory completed by Alexis Ferguson, Special Collections and University Archives Student Assistant, in May 2017.


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series I: Personal Correspondence, 1871-1939, undated],
[Series II: Financial Records, 1886-1924],
[Series III: Speeches, circa 1870-1933],
[Series IV: Writings, 1873-1935, undated],
[Series V: Legal Practices, 1877-1924],
[Series VI: Politics, 1880-1939, undated],
[Series VII: Education, 1878-1941, undated],
[Series VIII: Memorabilia, 1855-1933, undated],
[Series IX: Pictorial Records, 1864-1936, undated],
[Series X: Family Papers, 1767-1950, undated],
[Series XI: Historical Studies, 1780-1937, undated],
[Series XII: Index Cards, undated],
[Series XIII: Miscellaneous, 1872-1938, undated],
[Series XIV: Oversized Materials, 1843-1937, undated],
[All]

Series IV: Writings, 1873-1935, undated
Includes Robert Morton Hughes' writings, both published and unpublished, on political, legal and historical topics.
Box 5
Folder 3: Memorandum by Mr. Hughes about his writings, undated
Folder 4: Literary Contributions of Robert Morton Hughes to the University of Virginia Magazine, 1873-1877
Folder 5: Law of Shipping, chapters 1-3, part of 4, 1912
Folder 6: Writs of Error from the United States Supreme Court to Virginia Courts, 1914 February
Folder 7: Joseph I. Doran: A Tribute, 1919 October
Folder 8: The Fighting Editor, 1927 January
Folder 9: Can a state Prescribe a Breathing Spell, 1928 January
Folder 10: A Deserter's Tale, 1931 January
Folder 11: Some Letters from the Papers of General Joseph Johnston, 1931 October
Folder 12: Joseph Eggleston Johnston: Soldier and Man, 1933 April
Folder 13: Sixty Years Ago, 1933 July
Folder 14: Civil War or War Between the States, 1935 January
Folder 15: The A.B. Degree and the State Teachers College, 1935
Folder 16: Robert M. Hughes, His Anthology Poetry written by Robert M. Hughes, undated
Folder 17: The Adoption of Muzzey's History, undated
Folder 18: Miscellaneous Short pieces, undated

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Personal Correspondence, 1871-1939, undated],
[Series II: Financial Records, 1886-1924],
[Series III: Speeches, circa 1870-1933],
[Series IV: Writings, 1873-1935, undated],
[Series V: Legal Practices, 1877-1924],
[Series VI: Politics, 1880-1939, undated],
[Series VII: Education, 1878-1941, undated],
[Series VIII: Memorabilia, 1855-1933, undated],
[Series IX: Pictorial Records, 1864-1936, undated],
[Series X: Family Papers, 1767-1950, undated],
[Series XI: Historical Studies, 1780-1937, undated],
[Series XII: Index Cards, undated],
[Series XIII: Miscellaneous, 1872-1938, undated],
[Series XIV: Oversized Materials, 1843-1937, undated],
[All]

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