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Manning-Compton Archival Collection on Display

Released: 10/28/2008

Some 50 pre- and post-Civil War historical documents and letters from the Manning-Compton Collection recently donated to the LSUA Archives will be displayed Nov. 6 from 4-6 p.m. in the university’s Bolton Library at a public reception. The collection was donated by Richard L. Johnson Jr. and his late wife, Muriel V. Johnson.

“This is a significant collection from a watershed segment in American history,” said archivist Michelle Riggs. “It illustrates a range of events in the fascinating life of Thomas Courtland Manning, and it’s a valuable resource for serious scholarship of Central Louisiana history.”

Manning, who lived in Alexandria for the latter half of his life after moving from North Carolina, was a Louisiana Supreme Court justice, U.S. envoy to Mexico, and antebellum member of the board of supervisors for Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy, the forerunner to LSU. Manning also was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 1880, but he never served because he was refused a seat while Congress was not in session. Johnson, who will be at the reception, is Manning’s great grandson.

Included in the exhibit are a letter of amnesty from President Andrew Johnson, a letter from Gen. William T. Sherman (who Manning despised) seeking a reconciliatory meeting, two Confederate war bonds, Manning’s signed post-war oath of allegiance, letters to Manning from Govs. Thomas O. Moore, Louis A. Wiltz, Henry Clay Warmoth and Samuel D. McEnery, and cancelled pre-war promissory notes that were used to finance Manning’s early law practice.

The exhibit, which represents only a small portion of the entire collection, will be on display through Jan. 23. The collection is accessible by the public for research or general interest at the LSUA Archives in the library. Additional information and appointments are available by calling 619-2960.

“There is considerable interest in local history here,” said Riggs, a member of the Academy of Certified Archivists, “and we have a hands-on approach to anyone who wants to explore the people, events and issues that have influenced the past and contributed to the present.”