Special Collections of the ODU 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

ID: 00/MG 7

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

Extent: 20.4 Linear Feet. More info below.

Arrangement: The Hughes collection is divided into 14 series: Series I: Personal Correspondence; Series II: Financial Records; Series III: Speeches; Series IV: Writings; Series V: Legal Practice; Series VI: Politics; Series VII: Education; Series VIII: Memorabilia; Series IX: Photographs; Series X: Family Papers; Series XI: Historical Studies; Series XII: Index Cards; Series XIII: Miscellaneous; and Series XIV: Oversized Materials.

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: 29 Hollinger document cases, 4 oversize boxes, 1 oversize folder

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, Old Dominion University Libraries.

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 X: Family Papers, 1767-1950, undated
Includes family information and correspondence.
Sub-Series A: General, 1927-1928, undated
Includes a partial family tree and other information on the Hughes, Johnston, and Preston families.
Box 13
Folder 15: Partial Hughes-Johnston-Preston Family Tree, undated
Folder 16: Pamphlet re: Johnston and Morton Families, 1928
Folder 17: Alumni List of Norfolk Academy: Robert Morton Hughes, Jr., Sidney Hughes (sons); Floyd Hughes (Nephew) listed, 1927
Sub-Series B: Judge R. W. Hughes (Father of Robert Morton Hughes), 1767-1902, undated
Includes correspondence with Judge R. W. Hughes from 1767-1902.
Box 13
Folder 18: General Correspondence, 1849-1868
Folder 19: General Correspondence, 1873-1879
Folder 20: General Correspondence, 1880-1900
Folder 21: General Correspondence, undated
Box 14
Folder 1: Correspondence with Carrington Family Members, 1843-1884
Folder 2: Correspondence with John M. Daniel, 1853-1858
Folder 3: Correspondence with Governor John B. Floyd, 1851-1862
Folder 4: Correspondence with Mrs. Eliza (R.W.) Hughes, 1860-1869
Folder 5: Correspondence with J.P. Johnston, 1840
Folder 6: Correspondence with General Joseph E. Johnston, 1865-1879
Folder 7: Correspondence with L.M.,, 1862-1864
Folder 8: General Financial Correspondence, 1860-1898
Folder 9: Dispute with B.R. Johnston re: Mrs. Hughes' Inheritance, 1845-1860
Folder 10: Financial Dispute with W.W. .Berkeley, 1870-1885
Folder 11: Financial Dealings with John Clarkson, 1874-1876
Folder 12: Financial Dealings with John W. Johnston, 1879-1885
Folder 13: Harmason Financial Matter (Old Debt), 1874-1896
Folder 14: Financial Dealings with C. L. Perkins, 1879-1883
Folder 15: Bills from J. M. Roses and Sons, 1889-1899
Folder 16: Correspondence with W. B. Moses and Sons re: Debts of Mrs. Van Vleck, 1893-1895
Folder 17: Promisory Notes, 1898
Folder 18: Property Tax Records, 1869-1900
Folder 19: Deeds re: Hughes' Real Estate, 1871-1899
Folder 20: Surveys, Maps of Hughes' Real Estate Holdings, undated
Folder 21: Annoucement re: Hughes' Horses, 1887-1894
Box 15
Folder 1: Appraisal of Hughes' Estate, 1902 February
Folder 3: Material re: Massie Trust Case, 1852-1898
Folder 4: Material re: J. T. L. Preston, 1853-1855
Folder 6: Speech: "The Organic Law of England and the U.S.", undated
Folder 7: Speech: "Chief Justice Marshall and His Work", 1887 June 14
Folder 8: Oath of Allegiance; Amnesty; Pardon, 1865-1866
Folder 9: General Political Correspondence, 1868-1876
Folder 10: General Political Correspondence, 1877-1898
Folder 11: Correspondence with William Mahone, 1867-1876
Folder 12: Recommendations of Hughes for U.S. Supreme Court Appointment, 1877
Folder 13: Hughes-Cameron Duel, 1869
Folder 14: Dispute with Roger Pryor, 1856
Folder 15: Correspondence re: Attack from Col. Ruffin, 1884-1885
Folder 16: Correspondence re: Virginia and Kentucky Railroad, 1858-1867
Folder 17: Correspondence re: Governor John B. Floyd, 1861-1888
Folder 18: Correspondence with Peter J. Otey re: Governor Floyd, 1886
Folder 19: Draft Biography of Governor John B. Floyd, undated
Folder 20: Copies of Letters re: Floyd Resignation as Secretary of War, 1860
Folder 21: Receipt in Patrick Henry's Handwriting (According to R.W. Hughes), 1767
Sub-Series C: Eliza Johnston Hughes, 1839-1905, undated
Contains correspondence from 1843-1905 with Eliza Johnston Hughes.
Box 16
Folder 1: General Correspondence, 1846-1901
Folder 2: Correspondence with Governor John B. Floyd, 1839-1860
Folder 3: Correspondence with Mrs. Sally B. Floyd, undated
Folder 4: Correspondence with John Preston Johnston, 1839
Folder 5: Correspondence with John Preston Johnston, 1840
Folder 6: Correspondence with John Preston Johnston, 1841
Folder 7: Correspondence with John Preston Johnston, 1842
Folder 8: Correspondence with John Preston Johnston, 1843
Folder 9: Correspondence with John Preston Johnston, 1844
Folder 10: Correspondence with John Preston Johnston, 1845
Folder 11: Correspondence with John Preston Johnston, 1846-1847
Folder 12: Correspondence with Beverly R. Johnston, 1843-1848
Folder 13: Correspondence with Joseph E. Johnston, 1848-1887
Folder 14: Financial Records, 1903-1905
Folder 15: Real Estate Deeds, 1903-1905
Sub-Series D: Charles C. Johnston (Robert Morton Hughes' Maternal Grandfather), 1824-1831
Correspondence with Charles C. Johnston from 1824-1831.
Box 16
Folder 16: Correspondence, 1824-1831
Sub-Series E: Eliza Preston Johnston (Robert Morton Hughes' Maternal Grandmother), 1821-1827
Correspondence with Eliza Preston Johnston from 1821-1827.
Box 16
Folder 17: Correspondence, 1821-1827
Sub-Series F: Governor John Floyd, 1832
Includes one document only, a letter to the Governor of New York regarding fugitive slaves, dated 1832.
Box 16
Folder 18: Letter to Governor of New York re: Fugitive Slaves, 1832
Sub-Series G: John B. Floyd (son of Governor John Floyd and Robert Morton Hughes' adoptive maternal grandfather), 1831-1863, undated
Includes correspondence with John B. Floyd from 1831-1863.
Box 16
Folder 19: General Pre-Civil War Correspondence, 1831-61
Folder 20: Correspondence with Mrs. Sally B. Preston Floyd, 1855-1862
Folder 21: Diary, 1838-1845
Folder 22: Correspondence with John Tyler, 1843-1860
Folder 23: Correspondence re: Governors of Virginia, 1848-1849
Folder 24: Governor's Message, 1849 December 3
Folder 25: Correspondence while Secretary of War, 1857-1860
Folder 26: Material re: Fort Snelling Dispute, 1857
Box 17
Folder 1: Material re: Acceptances Controversy, 1860-1861
Folder 2: Letters from General Floyd, 1861
Folder 3: Letters from General Floyd, 1861-1862
Folder 4: Letters from General Floyd, 1861
Folder 5: Letters to General Floyd, 1862-1863
Folder 6: Correspondence with General Henry A. Wise, 1861
Folder 7: Orders; Commissions; Rosters, 1861-1862
Folder 8: Miscellaneous Morning Reports, 1861-1862
Folder 9: Diary of an Officer in Floyd's Command, 1862
Folder 10: Miscellaneous Civil War Correspondence, 1861-1862
Folder 11: Items in Floyd's Handwriting, undated
Sub-Series H: Sally B. Preston Floyd (Robert Morton Hughes' adoptive maternal grandfather), 1839-1879
Includes correspondence with Sally B. Preston Floyd dated 1839-1879.
Box 17
Folder 12: Correspondence, 1839-79
Sub-Series I: Edward Johnston, 1847-1848
Includes correspondence with Edward Johnston dated 1847-1848.
Box 17
Folder 13: Correspondence, 1847-48
Sub-Series J: John Preston Johnston (Robert Morton Hughes' maternal uncle, 1837-1845
Includes correspondence with John Preston Johnston dated 1837-1845.
Box 17
Folder 14: Correspondence, 1837-1839
Folder 15: Correspondence, 1840-1845
Sub-Series K: General Joseph E. Johnston, 1839-1924, undated
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.
Box 17
Folder 16: Correspondence with Various Johnston Relatives, 1839-1861
Folder 17: Correspondence with Beverly R. Johnston, 1847-1868
Folder 18: Draft of Letter to Jefferson Davis Protesting Ranking in Confederate Army, 1861
Folder 19: Letter from Wade Hampton, 1863 January 13
Folder 20: General Correspondence, 1861-1865
Folder 21: Copy of Convention signed with General Sherman, 1865 April 27
Folder 22: General Correspondence, 1861-1878
Folder 23: General Correspondence, 1880-1886
Folder 24: General Correspondence, 1886-1890
Box 18
Folder 1: Letters from General James Longstreet, 1877-1890
Folder 2: Letter from General Jubal A. Early, 1875 February 4
Folder 3: Correspondence with Clarence Buel (Century Magazine), 1884-1888
Folder 4: Correspondence with Robert V. Johnson (Century Magazine), 1884-1888
Folder 5: Correspondence with North American Review, 1886-1887
Folder 6: Letters to General Valencia (Mexican War Souvenirs), 1836-1837
Folder 7: Bennett Place Memorial Correspondence, 1923-1924
Folder 8: Bennett Place Memorial Association Legislative Enactment, 1923
Folder 9: Bennett Place Memorial Inscription, 1923 October 12
Folder 10: Bennett Place Memorial, Newspaper Clippings, 1923 November 8
Folder 11: Bennett Place Memorial Unveiling- Address by General Julian S. Carr, 1923 November 8
Folder 12: "Some Reminiscences of Joseph E. Johnston" by Robert M. Hughes, 1873-1874
Folder 13: Rough Draft of Johnston's Memoirs- Introductory Section, 1873-1874
Folder 14: Rough Draft of Johnston's Memoirs- Introductory Section (Different version), 1873-1874
Folder 15: Rough Draft of Johnston's Memoirs- Introductory Section (Third version), 1873-1874
Folder 16: Rough draft of Johnston's Memoirs- Miscellaneous Pages from First Part, 1873-1874
Folder 17: General Comments about the Confederacy, 1873-1874
Box 19
Folder 1: Material re: Northern Virginia Campaign, 1873-1874
Folder 2: Accounts of Battles with Sherman in Georgia, 1873-1874
Folder 3: Accounts of Battles with Sherman in Georgia (II), 1873-1874
Folder 4: Account of Final Battles, 1873-1874
Folder 5: Material re: Last Days of War, 1873-1874
Folder 6: Draft of Defense Against Critical Articles, 1802
Folder 7: Defense of Actions During Early Command in Virginia, 1861
Folder 8: Material for Defense Against Accusations by Jefferson Davis, undated
Folder 9: Defense Against Charges by General Beauregard re: Manassas Campaign, undated
Sub-Series L: Various Correspondents, 1787-1858
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).
Box 19
Folder 10: John Preston correspondence (Robert Morton Hughes' Maternal Great Grandfather), 1796
Folder 11: John Preston-Francis Preston Correspondence, 1787-1821
Folder 12: Sarah Campbell Preston Correspondence and Will, 1816-1847
Box 20
Folder 1: Letitia Floyd Letter to Benjamin Rush Floyd, 1843 February 28
Folder 2: Thomas P. McDowell Real Estate Deeds (Preston Family), 1857-1858
Folder 3: William Radford Correspondence, 1830-1850
Sub-Series M: Robert M. Hughes Jr., 1921-1950
Robert M. Hughes, Jr. Includes correspondence dated 1921-1950, and miscellaneous publications dated 1941-1946.
Box 20
Folder 4: Correspondence, 1921-1940
Folder 5: Correspondence, 1941-1950
Folder 6: The Tidewater Trail Magazine, 1944 Oct.-Nov.
Folder 7: Publicatons Collected by Robert Morton Hughes, Jr., 1941-46

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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