GUIDE TO THE JOHN MILTON LETTER BOOK
1.75 CUBIC FT
(5 document boxes)
Finding aide completed June 2003 by Debra T. Wynne
John Milton was the fifth Governor of Florida (October 7, 1861- April 1, 1865). He was born near Louisville in Jefferson County, Georgia on April 21, 1807. He was the son of General Homer Virgil and Elizabeth (Robinson) Milton. He was an attorney who practiced in a number of Georgia and Alabama communities and in New Orleans. He served in Florida during the Seminole War as a captain of a volunteer company and in 1846 moved to Jackson County as a farmer. He became active in politics and was a presidential elector in 1848 and a member of the House of Representatives from Jackson County in 1850. He was a vigorous States-Righter who encouraged the seizure by Florida forces of a Federal military establishments and also instrumental in the early secession of Florida from the Union.
As Governor, he developed a very active state militia and stressed Florida’s ability to serve as an important source of food and salt for the Confederate forces. Collapse of the Southern cause was followed by his death, April 1,1865 by a self-inflected gunshot wound at his family home Sylvania, near Marianna preferring “death to reunion.” He was married twice. He had 4 children by his first wife, Susan Amanda Cobb. His first wife died on April 25, 1842 and in 1844 he married again to Caroline Howze of Alabama with whom he had 10 children.
Scope and Content
The John Milton Letter book and correspondence are made up primarily of the 720 pages of his letter book. The miscellaneous correspondence consists 3 folders made up from items found loose within the letter book. There are 6 letters from Stephen R. Mallory, Secretary of the Confederate Navy, a letter from A.H. Bush advising him about legalities of secession and a letter from Dr. Thomas Palmer describing various battles. Another folder contains notices written by Milton found between the pages of the letter book.
Much of the letter book concerns military affairs and the defense of Florida. Besides copies of letters he has sent there are copies of letters received from such prominent Confederate leaders as Judah P. Benjamin, Jefferson Davis, and David Levy Yulee written into the letter book by his secretary. The original letter book is very fragile and should not be used. This collection contains both photocopies and transcripts. There is also a photocopy of his letter book from October 5, 1863 to March 9, 1865 the original is in the Florida State Archives in Tallahassee.
Box 1 & 2 are original pages of the 1861-63 letter book. Box 1 contains 12 folders including copies of correspondence about the provenance of the collection and up to page 456 of the original letter book. Box 2 contains original pages 457 to 720 and various letters, several from Stephen R Mallory and loose items by Governor Milton inserted in book. Due to the fragile condition of the original pages researchers are to use only the photocopies. Box 3 contains photocopies our 1861-63 letter book divided into folders with the page numbers on them. There are 13 folders in Box 3 and they go up to page 648. Box 4 contains 13 folders with photocopies of letter book pages 649-720, miscellaneous letters as well as photocopies of the other John Milton letter book in the Florida State Archives, pages 1-69. In addition there are typed transcripts of our letter book pages 1-100, as well as pages 600-698. There also is a letter-by-letter synopsis of the entire letter book. Box 5 contains 7 folders. It includes the original correspondence about the donation and its provenance and assorted duplicates of photocopies in previous boxes.
Former US Senator William Hall Milton of Marianna, grandson of Governor John Milton, presented John Milton’s letter book to the Florida Historical Society in August of 1937.
Originals are not to be used by researchers due to their extreme fragility.
Selected Subject Terms
Milton, John (1807-1865)
Mallory, Stephen Russell (1812-1873)
Benjamin, Judah P. (1811-1884)
Florida—History—Civil War, 1861-1865.
Civil War, 1861-1865—Florida.